Saturday, January 27, 2007

All Shades Of Brown

Siena was hands down the most charming place I visited in Italy. I realise that it is a grossly unfair comparison to make, since every city, every region in Italy is so different. Each place has its own charm, but for me Siena was special.

After Rome, Florence was a bit of a disappointment. Don't get me wrong, it is a wonderful place. And the art you can see is just amazing (it probably deserves another post all together). But it isn't an open and public city like Rome is. Almost everything worth seeing in Florence is inside. Or has been put inside (except the Piazza della Signora). So after Firenze, Siena was like a breath of fresh air. Getting out of the bus once you have reached Siena, is almost like stepping out of a time machine and finding yourself in a strangely medieval city.

From the 13th to the 15th centuries Florence and Siena were economic and military rivals in the Tuscan region. Numerous battles were fought between the two city states but Florence eventually had the upper hand and Siena was incorporated into Florentine territory and administration. No longer the important city state it once was , the city in a way, remained in limbo, locked in the middle ages. Built over three hills, the city is like a maze of concentric circles with the Piazza del Campo at its heart. The fan shaped square has to be one of the most beautiful in the world. It is here that Siena's famous horse race, the bi-annual Palio is held.

The Duomo is the other major landmark of the city. Along with St. Marks in Venice, the Duomo was my favourite out of all the churches I visited in Italy. The exterior of the Duomo in Florence, with Giotto's campanile by its side, takes your breath away and just standing in St. Peter's square is overwhelming, but on the inside both were a bit of a let down. The Duomo is Siena, has a most interesting exterior. When I first saw it's pictures I wondered what I would make of it in when I finally saw it - after all, it does have a strange black and white striped pattern. In reality it somehow manages to look absolutely beautiful and regal. The interiors are just as stunning and have some fabulous artwork.

There's so much more to see and do in Siena, but I suspect I have rambled on enough already. But I do need to mention Panforte. The terribly rich and delicious speciality of the town. The cake is a traditional Christmas dish and was being sold everywhere when I was there. The Italians really do have great desserts.
Anyway, I could go on and on about Siena, but I could never do the place justice. So, if you are ever in Italy - just go there!


Tabula Rasa said...

breathless girl, you forgot to mention what it is about siena that you found charming.

and why do you have two hit counters?

Szerelem said...

TR - are you calling me a "breathless girl" or are you implying that my pictures are so nice that they leave you breathless?? *confused*

What is charming about Siena? Well, everything. The Campo for one. You can sit on the ground in square for hours and people watch. And in the winter when the sun is out - it wonderful! The streets are steep and winding and just walking aimlessly is fun.Even the Tuscan landscape of the region is beautiful :D

As for two hit counters, Statcounter says I've reached my log limit or some such so it only shows the total number of hits and nothing else...

Tabula Rasa said...

thanks for the clarifications :-) your blog is clearly wildly popular!

clarification from my end -- you got it right the first time. (not every comment is a compliment on your photography -- that would be boring.)

bricks said...

Do you work for the tourism dept of Spain/ Italy?

(Awesome fotos)

Rahul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MockTurtle said...

As ever - awesome awesome pictures. I might just take your advice and visit the place the next time I'm in Europe. Keep on keeping on.

Szerelem said...

TR: Wildly popular??? I don't think so :)
And why breathless girl??
Btw, boring can be nice as well :P

Bricks: What makes you say that?? I wish I could work for them - can you imagine the travel opportunities?! In fact I have never been to Spain.

MT: Thanks :D
And you must definetely visit.

Swathi said...

i regret not getting off the train at Siena! **sigh***

but then I loved Florence more than Rome (n David being there is just one of the reasons)

Tabula Rasa said...

'breathless girl' - because that's how you came across.
'wildly popular' - because you overloaded statcounter; must be a first.
'boring ca be nice' - hint taken.

Panacea said...

Actually, I loved Florence more than Rome too. I suppose it just depends on when in the year you go travelling. Siena is a beautiful town. All the little towns in Umbria and Tuscany are just as fabulous.

PS: Have I told you how much I love your pictures :)

Meera said...

are these pictures you've taken?? they're absolutely gorgeous...

Szerelem said...

Swathi- Ah! Next time you're in Italy you must stop in Siena. The art in Florence is fabulous isn't it?! And I loved David as well....i think I spent close to 40 minutes in the Accademia just looking at that sculpture from every possible's amazing.

TR - I think Statcounter is just acting weird...I think it has a very low log limit. I don't really get very many hits :)

Pan - Blah! Don't talk about places in Italy - I want to come back and travel some more!!! And thank you :D

Meera: Thank you :D And yep, all of the pics have been taken by me. Seriously, you guys need to give me more credit!