Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Viva Italia: Day 3 - Siena

We really didn't mean to stay all day in Siena, but once we got there we couldn't help ourselves. It was wonderful!

Here's the view from the parking area:

That's the tower from the Cathedral of Siena in the background. The church you see on the left is San Domenico. And here's one a bit closer where you can start to make out the marbled-stripes of the cathedral:

From here we descended into the city. And the views were spectacular.

The town was smaller, and the streets were even more narrow here than in Florence. There were so many medieval walkways and alcoves -- you could literally lose yourself there!

In one alcove we discovered this-- and we're still not sure what the place is, but the well seemed to be a big deal:

By then we were starving, so we convinced the pizzeria at the edge of the Piazza del Campo, the historical town square, to make us a vegan pizza. Then we sat around the piazza people watching and munching our delicious lunch. Here's the Piazza del Campo and the town hall, the Palazzo Pubblico:

Look closely at that last picture-- there's a she-wolf suckling some human babes. This was a common sculpture in Italy. It's called the Capitoline Wolf, and the babes are supposed to be Remus and Romulus-- this will come in handy for our Grade 6 studies of Ancient Rome.

We finally made it to the exquisite Cathedral of Siena, and it rose up like a giant zebra in the midst of the old city:

You can see the nice details here, while Einstein ponders the map and Kitty Bill (who would now prefer to be called something like "Rocket boy" on my blog) sits on the post and whines about how tired he is of walking around. "Can we PLEASE get some gelato??" --They actually had vegan gelato at some shops in Italy, so it was a reasonable request.

Inside the Cathedral it looks like this postcard here:

Before acquiescing to the gelato demands, we stopped at bought some fruit at this stand here-- truly an example of picture perfect Italy:

Also on offer every few feet was beautiful, painted pottery showing off a perfect landscape of Italy... which we did not buy:

After wandering around town a bit I kept seeing signs for Santa Caterina. We followed them and found ourselves at the home of St. Catherine of Sienna, the other patron saint of Italy. This was not a saint that Moonshine had studied this year, but it was one I had read in my prep work. I told her what I remembered, and we sat in the wee little chapel they had created there and gazed at the pictures. It was a very sweet place (unfortunately I can't show you as we weren't allowed to take photographs). We then popped over to the adjoining gift shop and Moonshine picked out some postcards of Santa Caterina as well as a rosary and starter booklet. She had been seeing rosaries everywhere in Italy, and she was very curious about the whole thing. She found the rose smell enchanting and wore it around her neck for three days before I noticed it was giving her a rash-- probably the rose-scented oil?

Here's a peek at St. Catherine's house:

Apparently they give tours of Saint Catherine's house, but it didn't appear to be open when we went. This was a common theme we ran into, but we were happy enough with what we saw. Siena is such a beautiful city, it's hard to leave there feeling anything but contented.

Out of all the lovely things to see, the thing I loved best about Siena was the laundry hanging out the windows of these really old buildings. Did you ever think laundry could look so beautiful?!?

We had to be in Rome the next day to meet up with an old, dear friend of mine from high school/college days... so next stop: Roma!


  1. Oh, I'm SO loving all of this! Thank you for sharing. The girls learned about St. Catherine of Sienna in their Little Flower Girls meeting a few months ago so I will have to share your pictures with them later :D

    So now my curiosity is peaked - you are originally an American, living overseas, right? Are you returning to the States eventually? I'd SO LOVE to be living in Europe. It's a dream and would be amazing to add to a homeschooling life!

    Safe travels, my friend!

  2. delightful! i was hoping you went to siena. my daughter's name is sienna. we chose two *n*s, but the town was certainly part of the choosing as my hubby's family is italian. his aunt visited and brought us back some souvenirs, which was lovely and thoughtful. we will make it there one day, but in the meantime, it was wonderful to see your photos! thanks. :)

  3. Oh, I'm so glad you guys are enjoying these pictures. I'm happy to oblige! :)

    Momma Rae, you will LOVE Siena when you visit. It really is stunning-- and what a beautiful name for your daughter!!

    Jen, yes. We're Americans living overseas. We've been here just over two years now. We hope to be moving back to the states eventually, which is anywhere from next summer to 2014. It just depends on the job market. My kids are anxious to get back to American homeschooling life-- park days, homeschool fairs, library visits, and they desperately want a dog! Lol. They would be so envious of your kids!!

  4. so glad to have found your site!!! what a beautiful trip! and yes- I am a lover of laundry "scapes" myself!!!!! best of luck to you!! ::hugs::

  5. gasp.....I've looked around your blog a bit more....I'm in love. <3 thanks for the inspiration!! truly!!

  6. I was also taken by the laundry. When we stayed in Rome, we had a window laundry hanging thing in our apartment. I pretended I was a Roman housewife hanging out our wet towels. (And promptly removed all chairs from the kitchen and locked the windows as I remembered our own Santa Catalina who loves to climb and has no fear.

  7. Cyfaill--Oh gosh, those high windows with littles can be the pits! I remember when we first moved to Switzerland in the high apartment and I walked in and found Kitty Bill toddling on the open windowsill. Scariest moment of my life. Just thinking about it still gives me heart palpitations. --How fun that you got to pretend in Rome though!! :)

    Bending Birches, thanks so much for the kind words. I'm so glad you've found some inspiration here. Your comment made my day! :)

  8. Sara, my children have also learned about St. Catherine. I will have to show them your pictures.


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