by Melinda Gallo

Rainy trip to Siena

After numerous sunny days in Florence, I thought for sure that the sun would be shining for my day trip to Siena today. But, this morning I woke up to the sound of rain. I admit I was a little disappointed, but not much would prevent me from visiting Siena as it's one of my favorite Tuscan cities to visit.

Living in Florence :: Rainy trip to Siena

I haven't gone to Siena in a while and I felt the desire to go not only to visit the city and to show it to my girlfriend, but also to visit the Santuario di Santa Caterina (Saint Catherine's Sanctuary) because today, the 29th of April, is when she passed away and it is dedicated to her. Saint Catherine is one of the patron saints of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi. I have always felt an affinity with her and was told that she also is the protector of stranieri (foreigners) in Italy. I have never been able to confirm that, but I'm happy to believe it.

My girlfriend and I met in Piazza della Signoria and made our way through town to the SITA bus station near the stazione (train station). We bought our tickets and hopped on the next bus to Siena. The one-hour trip took us through the dark green countryside, which seemed even deeper in color against the grey sky.

It was sprinkling when we arrived and walked down the narrow streets and to the Santuario di Santa Caterina. There was a group of students in the dark oratorio (oratory) with frescoes on every wall. We wanted to visit the chiesa (church), but there was a mass being held inside to celebrate the Santa Caterina.

We walked to the Piazza del campo and had a cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) at one of the bars in a covered terrazza (terrace) with heaters that warmed us up from the rainy day.

We wanted to visit the sinagoga (synagogue), but it was closed and we didn't want ring the campanello (doorbell) even though we were told we could do so. We made reservations at a small restaurant nearby that I had already been to. Because we had about a half an hour before lunch, we walked to the Battistero (baptistery) to get a 10 Euros three-day ticket so that we could visit all the main attractions: Duomo, Battistero, cripta (crypt), and Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. The main reason we purchased the ticket even though we weren't going to visit anything just yet was because we'd be able to enter the Duomo without waiting in the long line in the rain.

We walked back to the restaurant and had a wonderful lunch. By the time we finished, the rain had stopped. We quickly walked to the Duomo to begin our visit. The Duomo in Siena is truly unbelievable. Each time I go, it takes my breath away. My friend and I both walked around taking photos and trying to take in as much of the Duomo as we could. Sometimes I think that I could spend all day inside because each time I visit it, I find new things that I didn't notice the last time. I was happy that they had uncovered the marble mosaics on the floor because they are spectacular.

When we were outside, I asked a poliziotto (police officer) how to get to the cripta. Before letting us follow his directions, he explained the architectural styles of the Duomo and pointed out some of the same styles on the neighboring buildings. I was quite impressed with his knowledge and so pleased that he was kind enough to share his knowledge with us.

In the cripta, there was a man who worked inside to make sure we didn't take photos and he informed us about the history of the cripta which was discovered less than 10 years ago. He had a booming voice that resonated inside the cripta, but it was so beautiful to see him talk about the cripta. He seemed very proud of it and it only made me appreciate it even more.

We then continued onto the Battistero, which is as amazing as ever. The hexagonal fonte battesimale (font) in the middle of the Battistero is beautiful to just look at because of all the details all around it.

The last tourist attraction that we visited was the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo. My main reason for visiting this museum wasn't only to see the amazing sculptures, but also to walk up on the facciatona where we could view the city and the surrounding countryside. The picture shown here of the top of the Duomo was taken from the top of the facciatona.

We walked through town on our way back to the bus stop and took the first one to Florence. I was exhausted, but so happy to have visited it with my girlfriend who enjoyed it as well. For me, Siena is one of those cities that somehow touches my heart, and I could never get tired of going there for a visit.

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