Ten years ago now, my husband and I spent a lovely summer in Siena, where he was doing some studies on Dante. He was there 6 weeks and I for 5–because of a passport renewal that wasn’t delivered on time as promised and therefore I missed my original flight. Still, 5 weeks is quite a good length of time!
In Siena they have beautiful medieval buildings, great food, vibrant local culture and a good climate…well, most places in Tuscany seem that way. From our base there, we went on weekend trips to other places.
Here below is the Piazza del Campo, the magnificent medieval town square. Sienese architecture is known for its distinctive tower designs and its black and white striped stone walls.
Every summer, the piazza is the site of a very unique event in Sienna: the Palio. It is a horse race tracing back to medieval times. The event takes place twice, once in July and once in August. Large amounts of soil are placed around the perimeter of the square and pressed down to make a firm dirt track. Ten horses with ten bareback jockeys go round this course 3 times. Before the race, there is an elaborate pageant with people dressed as knights and such. Each horse represents a contrada, or city ward. Each contrada comprises residents of a certain part of the city and has its own flag and songs. At the Palio, flags of all colours are flying and being waved as members of different contrade (plural) chant their songs and stared down rivals.
The view from afar of the Benedictine Abbey of Sant’Antimo near the town of Montalcino in Tuscany, Italy. Construction began on the abbey in the 12th century. The monastery stands out alone amid lovely golden fields of wheat, the typical narrow Tuscan cypresses flanking it.
I’ve been going through my photo archives recently trying to weed out duplicates; for some reason the photos on my Apple devices are showing up double or sometimes even triple. While I was deleting extras, I culled out the duds and then collated some of my favourite travel photographs from over the years into albums. I found quite a few good ones from my summer in Italy in 2007.
For this picture I had climbed the many many winding narrow steps to the very top of the dome of the basilica. Boy, did that make me dizzy! It was early in the day and as I gazed out over the nearly empty plaza in front of the façade and Bernini’s colonnade, there was a sense of overwhelming grandeur. What a place! What a place! From the top of the inside of the dome, one could look over a railing and see down to the impressive tomb of Saint Peter himself directly below. Inside the church, with its dusky side chapels and shafts of dusty light coming down in long rays, I even saw the famous Pieta statue of Michelangelo, circling around it slowly and in awe. Michelangelo was one of the principle architects for the basilica, did you know?
It’s hard to believe that trip was 10 years ago. How time flies…
This is an old photo from the archives from when I stayed in Siena, Italy, for 5 weeks one summer. What a place! I am working on creating products for my online store and making postcards of places I’ve been is one of those projects.