Thursday, January 01, 2015

1. Siena Duomo 2-3. City of Siena and views of the Duomo 4-5. Facade of Siena Duomo (Cathedral) 6. Palazzo Salimbeni 7. Bell Tower 8-10. Piazza del Campo 11-13. Streets of Siena 14. Residential building 15. Ribollita (Tuscan Bread Soup) 16. Siena views from somewhere.

Another day, another medieval city, faced and conquered. After being totally won over by Assisi’s charm, Siena did not make an instant impression on me. Much more rustic, with people running about, Siena was chaotic and my sub-conscious mind kept pining for Assisi’s beautiful views. Now, that my trip is over and I have had time to reassess, Siena would probably be my first choice if you want an unadulterated experience of a medieval city.

Although Assisi’s medieval architecture is perfectly preserved with no new town to speak of (unlike Siena), it has a much more relaxed and friendly vibe whereas in Siena the medieval culture runs much deeper. It’s medieval influence becoming prevalent not only through the architecture but also in rivalry that runs between the seventeen neighborhoods (Wards) inside Siena with their own flags, distinct boundary and identity. This rivalry comes on display during the biannual festival of Palio or horse racing, an often brutal competition for horses and bare-backed riders compared to Assisi’s meeker approach to annual displays with the yearly balcony garden competition. Perhaps Siena’s more rustic honesty is unintentionally revealed as I was more drawn to capturing people going about their daily lives.

A must to tick off the bucket list when in Siena is the Duomo. It is a beautiful piece of Gothic-Romanesque architecture and is unlike any I saw on my Italian trip. Even though Italian Basilicas and Duomos rarely disappoint, this one definitely stands out. Being in the heart of Tuscany, food remains just as amazing as everywhere else in Italy. I tried a special Tuscan bread soup called Ribollita and despite its somewhat goopy texture, the flavours were beautiful and soothing after endless days of pizza and pasta. Don’t take my word for it though as a lady behind us in the quiet restaurant, unlike my own bowl that was licked clean, had to especially ask for the soup to be returned to the chef, almost untouched, of course at the expense of a very haughty waitress.

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