“it is a serious thing just to be alive
on this fresh morning in this broken world.”
Mary Oliver American poet 1935 –
Today was the day for Sienna (note the Italians spell this place Siena). The train duly arrived and left on time. Quite a change from the last abortive effort of going to Sienna.
On the train I met a delightful American couple from Stockton, California. Talking with them made what could have been an uninteresting train ride through uninteresting countryside, interesting. They were both retired, he a statistician and she a school teacher. It’s great to talk and share with people you meet while on vacation. They had been the victims of a pick pocket on the railway station at Rome and so he had lost his wallet and his phone..We joked that now she had him in her power; she had the money and the access to the rest of the world. At the end of the journey we went our separate ways having exchanged names addresses and phone numbers in case we ever found ourselves near to each others homes in the future. Stranger things have happened in my life.The train from Firenze arrives at the station in Siena on a level well down the hillside and to get to the exit we had to climb about ten sets of escalators and travelators. I thought we would never get there.
Then my guide book had told me which buses I could get into the centre of the town but not which direction. So I approached a woman getting out of her car. “Scusi Senora. Parla Inglesa?” to which she replied “Yes I do”. So she pointed me to the nearest bus stop and told me which bus to get on.
At the bus stop I met a couple from Sydney, Australia ho were at the end of an 8 week holiday. The bus duly arrived and we got on it and were taken to the centre. After a few more scusis to different people I found my way to the square.
Il Campo, the square, spreads out in front of the Gothic Town Hall with a fountain at its tip. As it was Sunday the crowds were everywhere, talking in a variety of languages, laughing, eating and having fun. A group of young people were playing a game the rules of which seemed to be known only to them, shrieking and laughing and really enjoying themselves. All around Il Campo are restaurants with outside seating, souvenir shops and also specialty shops.
One of the delicacies particular to Siena is Panforte* and I discovered a little shop selling this sweet among other Tuscan delights. I asked for a piccolo piece and the kind lady sliced me off a sliver and refused payment; I walked out with my foil wrapped sweet which I ate as I wandered the streets of this quaint town. Of course, I went back and bought this larger piece.
I decided that I didn’t want to visit any museums and so just strolled around people watching and enjoying myself.
Another late lunch found me having a huge pizza at one of the outdoor cafes ringing the square –Quatro Stagioni (Four Seaons) Pomodoro formaggio, jambon cuit, champignons, artichaut e olives (or cheese, ham, tomatoes mushrooms, artichokes and olives). I am really no great lover of pizza but when in Rome etc. It was enormous and I managed to eat only half. My grandsons would have been sorely tried with a pizza this size.
I saw a display of locally grown vegetables and fruits – I think it was a group of local growers. This display attracted a lot of interest.
Apparently this building is considered one of the most beautiful in Tuscany.
Then it was time to head back to the station but on the way I passed the Post Office.
This time at the bus stop I encountered a man with his wife and her friend and husband. The man was German and they all live in Canada but he and his wife have a house in the hills locally. As they spend a considerable amount of time here he was able to tell me which bus to get to the station , having first shown me how to purchase the bus ticket from the machine. He then kept us entertained with his laughter and story telling not only until the bus came but also all te way to the station.
I arrived back with plenty of time to catch the train back to Florence. And what a surprise when my American friends came into the carriage. So we spent the return journey learning more about each others lives.
And at last, the train pulled into the station in Florence, we said our goodbyes again and went off they to their hotel in Florence and me to the apartment. Another long (10 hours) day and so once I arrived home I had a shower, a banana and a cup of tea and after a short Skype call to New Zealand I called it a day and took myself off to bed..
*Panforte is a traditional Italian dessert containing fruits and nuts, and resembles fruitcake It may date back to 13th century in Siena.
2. According to my guide book and my friend in New Zealand Siena is famous for its horse race. This takes place twice a year and lasts just 90 seconds, This race around the square has been held since the 13th century. Originally it took the form of a bareback race the length of the city but from the 17th century it has been run around the square.
I awoke this morning to the sound of heavy rain and thunder and lightning, so it made the decision of what to do today very simple. I would stay inside. This is one of the benefits of being in an apartment rather than a hotel. One can lounge around all day if one wants.
The downside of the bad weather was that the internet, never the most reliable here in Florence, was down for a part of the day. So the Skype call was not very successful and writing my blog had to be put off in favour of reading. Oh dear – how sad is that.
Lunch today was made of things already in the apartment, served and eaten on the coffee table as I was reading.
The rain did let up in the middle of the afternoon and I thought I should take myself out for a breath of fresh air and a wander around the neighbourhood.
And I just love the Brie made in France. It is so much better than the Brie made in NZ. I have been eating it all day, with crackers for breakfast, with fruit for lunch and with coffee after dinner.
And as Marcel Proust said:
“My destination is no longer a place,
rather a new way of seeing.”
I am most definitely discovering a new way of seeing – beautiful objects, buildings and art, and lovely interesting people.
- Florence/Tuscany (Livorno) Oct. 20 (casejim58.wordpress.com)
- Florence, beautiful even when it’s raining (carsonquigley.wordpress.com)
- If it’s Wednesday, this must be Siena – Florence, Italy (travelpod.com)