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Published: July 22nd 2017
Today we planned to make a day trip to Siena, an hour and a half train journey south of Florence, so we had a little lie in (9am) in the morning, got ready and walked down to the station for our lunchtime train. Obviously, we picked some seats in the one carriage of the 15 or so carriage train where the AC was broken (as later confirmed by the conductor) so it was a bit of a sweaty one. I just read my book on my lovely new Kindle and tried to keep my back away from the seat whenever possible?
The train station in Siena was at the bottom of a pretty big hill, so we were pleased that it was next to a shopping centre which had a long series of escalators and travelators which took us all the way from the top. From there it was a short walk to the historical area of the city. It was a notably longer walk through the older area of town to reach the main square, but at least there were some interesting buildings to look at.
The main square was a very large and slightly sunken area dominated
by a large clock tower. There is a ring around the outside of the piazza lined with bars and restaurants and a few souvenir shops. Once a year, this ring/path is covered in sand and the centre of the piazza and the surrounding streets filled with people for an annual horse race where each district of Siena has a horse/rider representing them. The streets are very narrow and winding so this must be a crazy sight. Before moving on to the cathedral and its associated buildings, we found somewhere for lunch. We had moved out of the main piazza as much as possible but it was still tourist trap prices including €4.10 for a can of coke!
Lunch done, we picked up a ticket for the main 5 parts of the cathedral and started with the main one, the cathedral itself. It was pretty massive and impressively decorated including its own little library, a statue of Madona and child and lots of pictures formed in Mosaic on the floors. There was supposed to be silence in respect for this religious place but of course every few minutes the hubbub of tourist whispers built up to proper chatter and there
were regular calls for silence from the staff, including one comically ironic tannoy announcement, which itself shattered the peace.
Next we visited the crypt below the cathedral of which the walls depicted the crucifixion of Christ from the last supper through to the deformation. Sadly much of it was warn, missing or unclear but certain sections were in good condition. Strangely, as someone who isn't religious at all, I found I half enjoyed remembering parts of this story from teachings at primary school (and a very brief stint at Sunday school) when I was much younger.
We visited a few other areas of the cathedral but the most noteworthy was the panoramic view from atop of the structure surrounding the cathedral museum. This offered good views of the cathedral and of the surrounding landscape way way into the distance (as it is very flat around Siena). Thankfully there were not as many stairs is time, or at least they were broken up by the museum exhibitions.
Next we fancied a bit of a snack so via TripAdvisor and a wander around the streets, we tried to find a good bakery as we wanted to try a cannelloni.
Again, as with the pasta search, you would think this an easy task in Italy but again we struggled and it became a fruitless task! Eventually we had to admit defeat and get a gelato instead. I got a waffle cone with 3 scoops, hazelnut mouse, coffee and Tiramisu, I especially enjoyed the hazelnut one which had whole hazelnuts in it, yummy!
We had planned to stay in Siena for dinner and catch a train back at 19:30 ish but by 5pm we had already basically seen everything and were both pretty happy to just head home early instead. We wandered back to the shopping centre by the station and picked up a drink. We also found ourselves a bargain, 99 cents for a 66cl bottle of Heineken! We decided to buy a couple each and get a takeaway back in Florence for dinner.
We got on the train and I wrote a few blogs, then we walked the 25mins back to our AirB&B to dump our bags before popping to a local Thai restaurant to order and wait for our takeaway. Back at the flat we ate and drank our beers whilst playing cards, we one a
series each making the running total Dan 2 vs my 6. My phone was once again being a pain in the arse and wouldn't turn on even once plugged in to the mains for the white noise music I need pumping through my headphones in order to drown out the road noise and actually sleep. I had to read for a while whilst it charged enough to turn on, which made it a bit of a late night, getting to sleep about 1am. Tomorrow was going to be a tough day I could tell already :-(
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