The Alaska contingency has asked me to join them in some sightseeing of Siena, which is north of Rome. The city is best known for the regional horse race called Palio di Siena which takes place there twice a year. It was also spared much of the damage caused by war, so it sits idyllically like a piece of unfettered history tucked in the green rolling Italian hills.
Since we are here for two weekends this trip, we’ve had a few days of down time midweek to recover physically and take in the sites. While some of us went to Siena, others went into Rome to see the Coliseum and other sights. The Dupeas celebrated their 25 year anniversary by going to Verona and Florence midweek. The Kilpatricks are off doing their thing also. We are enjoying the down time, and I purposefully put out of my mind all the tasks at hand for the upcoming weekend.
We leave early, first walking, then taking a bus, the metro, a train, and another bus to get there. It is an arduous trip, but well worth it. And suddenly we are there.
Every turn of the corner is a photo opp in this congested but calm and clean city. Cobblestones line every street, and brick and stone buildings lean tight against one another, gaining strength in their masoned grip. Narrow streets toss and turn haphazardly in obtuse fashion, suddenly jutting up or down at right angles. Occasionally a spire will rise from one of the main buildings, pointing to indifferent clouds in the sky. It is like a back lot scene at Universal Studios, only it is immense in proportion…and real.
We are so enamored by the city that we resist the temptation to rest until hunger forces us to stop. Cameras click unceasingly. We order dinner and wine in the Piazza del Campo, an unusually large cobbled area lined with posts that form a circuit around the plaza. This is where the horses run, I am told. Clouds float lazily above us, and we purpose ourselves to sit and soak in the food, the atmosphere, the wine. I order the carbonara, and sip on a bottle of white wine that is way too good for my taste buds. We laugh and toast, feast and laugh again, then sit quietly to take it all in. For an hour or so, we are Italianos. Then we stand, look at one another with a nod, and begin the long journey back to our apartments in Rome.
Fun Facts: (1) Piazza is just a fancy name for outdoor plaza; (2) I think I have been on more trains in this trip than I have been on my entire life; (3) Everyone on the Team agreed to share our digital photos with one another, and I’ve been passing around my jump drive for everyone to borrow. So far, I’ve counted about 1500 photos. (4) I have come to the conclusion that the best bottle of wine is any bottle shared with friends.
Photos: All of these photos are of the Piazza del Campo. Though we probably snapped a hundred photos of all of Siena, sipping wine at the Piazza will be what I will most remember from this day.