Blogs from Siena, Tuscany, Italy, Europe - page 5


Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena August 16th 2012

Il Palio Di siena is the most disorganised, hectic, amazing, thrilling, confusing and wonderful event we have ever been to. Everyone should try to get to this festival because words cannot even begin to describe the emotions and experience of being here.The Italian calendar revolves around festivals and in Siena, their lives revolve around il Palio. Palio is a banner that each of the regions compete for. In Siena there are 17 regions and each is represented by an animal and different colours. Twice a year the regions enter a rider into a bareback horse race that takes place on the main piazza- piazza Di campo. Only 10 contrada can enter the race, 7 who didnt race last time and 3 others drawn at random. The race has very few rules, is very fast and dangerous ... read more
Siena streets with flags flying
'pee' not grigio perhaps
The piazza at 2 o'clock when we got there

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena July 2nd 2012

Sienna and Il Palio I had planned to go and see Il Palio since maybe August-Septmber last year. The only problem was it fell on the first day of my fashion design course....I couldn't really cancel going to my first day of classes in favor of a horse race?! But luckily fate stepped in and cancelled the class on the first day!!! I couldn't believe my luck! Even bettee, Davina's class was also cancelled and she wanted to go too! SO EXCITED!!! We left Florence at about 11, got our tickets (but didn't realise they needed validating and got a $5 fine) and took the train to Sienna (about 2 hours away). We took a bus into town and realised we were famished so we stopped for pizza and bought some biscuits for later. We wandered ... read more

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena May 27th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305Sunday - must be Florence. The fellow at the hotel desk recommended taking the bus and the train to Florence. One catch. The store where you buy the bus tickets was closed as are many things in smaller towns on Sundays. We decided just to drive and thankfully the GPS took us directly to the parking lot beside one of the main gates. The lot was full but there was a space across the street so we took a chance and the car was still there when we got back!Florence is flat - no steep stairs and walkways so our legs got a bit of a rest today.We entered by the Porto Romana (one of the gates). On entering you see the vehicle restriction sign with a camera. Going beyond this point without a ... read more
Florence - Expensive
Florence - Street
Florence - Palazzo Pitti

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena May 26th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305The day started overcast with a bit of rain while driving but then cleared and by mid-day the temp was up to 26 degrees.Tuscany is very pretty - rolling hills and neatly ordered fields of hay, various vegetables and of course olive trees and vineyards.The hill towns date back to several hundred years BC. Parking can be a problem and when we arrived in Volterra about 10 am the lot was already full. We eventually found a "private lot" which actually was part of the seminary. The fellow who seemed to be looking after the lot told us we couldn't park there but 3 euros seemed to convince him otherwise at the urging of a priest who was also parked there. The fellow wasn't there when we returned and we had to manually lift ... read more
Wine & Olive Oil Sales
Volterra Sign
Volterra Gate

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena May 25th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305Back on the road again headed west. We left the flat lands well past Venice and back into hill country. It seems the Italian philosophy of road building is to maintain minimum elevation changes on the road by building bridges across valleys and tunneling through hills - very expensive infrastructure costs but they toll these roads to pay for them. Our trip today was about 19 euros for about 250K of driving.Our destination is the town of Siena which is past Florence. It is interesting to note that Siena and Florence were rivals as cultural centers around the 13th and 14th centuries. Most people visit Florence but the Siena Cathedral is in fact more authentic than that in·Florence. We arrived at the hotel and walked to the old town which is located at the ... read more
Siena - Tower
Siena - View from the Tower

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena May 8th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305I arrived in Siena on Tuesday via three trains. I am an expert at this now. Oh except for the conman at the Pisa station. He was hanging around the shop and told me it was compulsory for me to pay him government tax on my ticket. I had heard about these guys scaring tourists into handing over money. I pretended I didn't understand English or Italian. He went away. Sorted myself out on the map and took to the streets. Siena has the largest piazza I have seen, Piazza del Campo. It is fantastic. It slopes like a sink on its side and everyone lays around in the sun for hours all gazing in one direction toward the Palazzo Comunale. I was tempted to sit at that area and face the opposite direction ... read more
Hayley's chipmunk

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena April 30th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305Buonasera all:It was a rainy day Sunday in Siena, so it was a great day for some indoor spirituality and a winery tour to a quaint hill town south of Siena, Montalcino, almost 2000' above sea level and the home of the most famous and robust product of the Sangiovese grape, Brunello di Montalcino.The morning was spent at the Santuary of St. Catherine, which was created around her childhood home. She was known for persuading the pope to return to Rome from Avignon, France when she was a young Dominican nun, and after her death went on to become the patron saint of Siena and Europe.In the afternoon, we took a field trip to two wineries in the Montalcino area south of Siena -- one a small family winery within the old city walls, ... read more
Padelletti Winery cellar tasting room
View from Padelletti Winery patio
Perfect setting for a glass of Brunello

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena April 28th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305Bongiorno all:We saw the entire medieval city of Siena on a 2-hour walking tour Saturday, led by a wonderful native Sienese woman from My Tours. Saturday happened to be the Feast Day of St. Catherine, so everything was decked out and festive.We heard about the 17 districts in the city, the role Siena played as a pilgrimage stop between England and Rome, the life of St. Catherine of Siena, patron saint for this city and all of Europe, the war between Siena and Florence, its role in banking, and the annual horse races run in the Il Campo, the public square in front of the city hall, Palazzo Pubblico, that pits the city's neighborhoods against each other in a lively, festive competition.The walking tour ended inside the Duomo, a stunning architectural and religious structure. ... read more
Siena Duomo
Siena Duomo nave
Marble inlay in the Siena Duomo floor

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena April 27th 2012

Geo: 43.3187, 11.3305Ciao all:Friday, April 27 was moving day. We ended our 4-day stay in Firenze (Florence), packed our bags, and jumped on a bus for the medieval city of Siena, an hour or so south.But first, we had one more museum to see, the Duomo Museum that houses all the original paintings and sculptures from the cathedral for safe keeping, restoration, and public display. Two remarkable works are worth noting, among the most amazing pieces we've seen this week: Michelangelo's Pieta and Donatello's Maddalena (Mary Magdalene). The museum also had a great history and workshop space on the design and building of the cathedral and Brunelleschi's dome.Then, off to Siena, where we arrived and settled in early enough to head out for our usual Friday night pizza -- had eggplant, zucchini, and non-marinated artichokes on ... read more
Heading toward the Duomo
Michelangelo's Pieta
Donatello's Mary Magdalene

Europe » Italy » Tuscany » Siena February 22nd 2012

This Italy trip has been so amazing! I can't believe that there are only two nights left! The whole thing is so unreal. We went to Venice on Sunday and arrived around noon. It was pretty overcast, but I like when the weather is like that. Right when we got off of the train we saw people walking around in masks and costumes. It was so exciting and fun! It was the last day of Carnevale, so everyone was either in full costume or had a mask on. Allie and I checked into our hostel (which was very interesting…) and then went out to explore the city. I wanted to get my face painted but I had a bad cough so I thought it was best not to. We ate at a restaurant on the canal ... read more
St. Marks Square

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