Saturday, October 8, 2016

Travel Tuscany: The Blue Sky of Siena, Italy

I fell in love with Siena the first time I visited it and my affection for this Medieval place remains high even after subsequent visits.

Siena has retained its medieval ambiance, with winding streets and old buildings and churches, which I love. I get a feeling of the place, a sense of its long history. In a past visit, I even felt the presence of ghosts, which I wrote about. (click on link).

The formidable saint, mystic, and doctor of the Catholic church, Catherine of Siena (my other patron saint -- my second name is Catalina) came from Siena. The basilica, which is named after her (Basilica Caterina) displays her relic, her head, which sounds gruesome, but it was the custom of the church then to keep body parts of saints as relics. St. Catherine's House is a short walk away. It's amazing to visit her house which dates back to the 1300s. The house been converted and has several chapels. Because of my connection with St. Catherine, I love visiting this place, even though others may not find it so memorable.

More famous that these two religious sites is Siena's Duomo, one of the most magnificent cathedrals I have ever seen. The interior is decorated with striped white and green-black marble, and unknown to many because it is usually covered up, the floors of the duomo are incredibly beautiful inlaid mosaic marble. The floors are exposed only for special occasions, generally in the fall, around the time of Siena's famous Il Palio horse race. This year, 2016, happens to be Jubilee of Mercy and the floors are exposed. We had the privilege to linger and admire these incredible artwork


Siena's Piazza del Campo, a huge sloping square, which is regarded as one of Europe's greatest medieval squares is indeed impressive. This site was a marketplace before the 13th century. It continues to be used by the public and is the site for the biannual Palio horse race. There are several cafes that occupy the surrounding buildings and a must-do in Siena is to sit and eat or drink at dusk and watch the sky turn a deep blue, Giotto blue, we call it.  It is simply stunning!

This time we only did a day-visit to Siena, but the other times, we spent a couple nights there. It is better to spend a night or two in Siena to experience the place without the day-time horde of tourists.(Peak tourist hours seem to be from noon until around 4 p.m.)

I am sharing pictures taken at this beloved place. There are quite a number of the Duomo. Further down, you'll see the House of Saint Catherine, the Basilica Santa Caterina, and finally the large and elegant Piazza del Campo. Be sure and take a look at the last picture showing the purple-blue sky of Siena as nighttime set in.

I still have to blog about our visit to Rome, so stay tuned!


House of St. Catherine

Altar of St. Catherine with her head as relic

A street showing the flag of a district

We're at the Campo late in the afternoon, watching the sky turn blue

Take a look at that purple-blue Siena sky!

Read also
Travel Italy: Rome the Eternal City

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