Monday, 25 November 2013

Siena - splendid in rain or shine

It was pouring the Sunday we visited Siena, but I was impressed by how photogenic it was even in the rain. The city had a splendour that stemmed from its long history dating back to Etruscan times.   I was struck by the beauty of its architecture, particularly when I emerged from one of the many side streets that fed into the famous Piazza del Campo.  I let out a gasp of astonishment, awed by its magnificence, undiminished by the rain.  It was the perfectly proportioned beauty of great architecture that took everyone's breath away.  And regardless of the rain, everyone was snapping away...

Our first view of the old town - in the rain

Basilica of San Domenico which housed the relics of St. Catherine of Siena - her severed head was in the altar while her preserved right thumb was in a case not too far away, positively medieval!

The roads into the old town centre -

The main square - Piazza del Campo, one of the most attractive squares in Europe, renowned for its architectural integrity built at the height of Siena's medieval splendour in the early half of the 14th century.  The Palazzo Publico is the focal point of the square with the bell tower (Torre del Mangia) built to be taller than the one in Florence, Siena's rival at the time.  The square is the site of the famous Palio horse races, held twice a year around its edges.

View of the square from the side of the Palazzo Publico - the buildings around the square curved inwards giving the square its shell-shaped structure.  

 the Palazzo Publico with its superbly proportioned courtyard is the home of the Museo Civico - wish we had the time to go into this important Art Museum...

The Fonte Gaia (Fountain of Joy) on one side of the square, built in the early 15th century as the endpoint of the system of conduits bringing water into the city centre.
In more than one Italian city, we saw specialty shops for each category of clothing, one for ties, one for shirts, hats...

Lots of ups and downs - it's a hilltown afterall

I have never seen so many colours and varieties in pasta, or in espresso machines!

We just stumbled into this gorgeous hall - turned out this is the Academia dei Rozzi, supposedly Italy's oldest academy founded in 1531.

Signs of the Palio - a shop selling Palio photos and souvenirs and flags on the streets with Palio flags, one for each of the ten city wards.

The town's emblem, the wolf suckling the twins Remus and Romulus were everywhere - legend had it that Siena was founded by Seinus, son of Remus...

The splendid view of the Cathedral with its Duomo and tower after the rain

Next post:  The Cathedral in Siena

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