“Italy, and the spring and first love all together should suffice to make the gloomiest person happy.” –Bertrand Russell
After Florence we head south to its rival city Siena another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before entering this classic medieval city of brick and hill town in Tuscany we made a full stop outside its city walls for a full view of its awe and splendor. It’s like being in the movie really and you know you are not looking at the whole town with a castle of a theme park but people really settled there in 4 century AD
We had lunch in one of the local restaurant in the city (pizza and pasta of course) and we walked around. The walls and gates enclose a city center that is composed of narrow, winding streets and old buildings and arrived at The Siena Cathedral (Duomo). As per our local tour guide, Siena wanted to have one of the biggest cathedrals in Europe. They started to build it in 12th century but they had to stop in 1348 due to plague. Although at present the Duomo is only a small part of what it was intended to be but it’s as beautiful and one of the great examples of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture.
Private cars have limited access inside the city walls, both because of the restricted amount of space and the complex street layout this allows drivers to leave their cars at the gates of the city while they enjoy themselves in the center where our tour ended. Dominated by a large shell-shaped square called the Piazza del Campo, which is the focus of Siena’s civic life. Known worldwide for the famous Palio run or horse race run around the piazza twice every summer. (To be able to relate to this race, watch Quantum of Solace.)
Siena’s original character remains unspoiled and remains essentially a medieval town as far as I’m concerned. It is the mother of all medieval towns I have ever stepped into with a provincial sophistication ambiance that comes from its long history. It meant to escape damage during World War II and survive as a provincial town of great beauty and charm for all tourist to see.