Hi all, This is Lian, Tara's brother. I have been enjoying my week with the "Going Slowly Crew" here in Italy. We are having a wonderful time here in the countryside with short trips to the towns. The highlight has of course been seeing Tara and Tyler and hearing all about their adventures, spending time with them, and seeing first hand how their whole trip works. As you can see from the blog we have been cooking up a storm and making great use of all the talented cooks in our family!
Today we went to Siena to explore the old city with no specific places we wanted to check out. We parked near the football (soccer) stadium and walked into the center of the city. As we wandered around the city we saw many Italians living their daily lives and then as we neared the center we saw many tourists… here are some Italians in the morning waiting for newspapers.
We saw a sign for the San Francesco church and followed narrow streets just wide enough for a car to pass where there were people, cars, and scooters all trying to take turns passing. On the way we saw this cat trying to take a bite out of a leaf; it soon gave up and we moved along towards the church.
Siena is a beautiful city and we had a wonderful morning leisurely walking the streets checking old buildings, neat shops, and scoping out all the different gelaterias so we would decide where to make our daily gelato stop. When walking around it is always interesting to me the differences between the shops in Italy and the US where many stores are open 7 days a week with long hours and are never closed during the daytime. In Italy we have run into many places like Natura Si (the natural food store we have been going to near our place) which is closed from 1pm-4pm everyday. Now that is a different pace of life.
In the main plaza, Il Campo we stopped to enjoy the magnificent buildings and hear about how the town packs the square twice a year for their horse race, the Palio di Siena. There are 17 districts or neighborhoods of the city and they draw straws (or something) to see which 10 will compete in the races. There is apparently lots of partying and feasting and ultimately a horse race. We saw signs everywhere celebrating the winning horse from the race that was held about a month ago. We also saw some silly pigeons drinking from a fountain in the plaza!
One of the buildings I found the most interesting was some sort of old office-looking building which had heads sticking out of the top of it all around the edge just below the roof. Each head was different and since they were about 6 stories up we couldn't get a super good view of them, but we did snap a great picture of a few of the heads sticking out and looking down on all of us.
We stopped briefly for lunch and Tara caught the chef relaxing before we headed in to to grab some food. Unfortunately the fare was nothing special. Tara ordered lasagna which came out cold. We sent it back and for some reason they never brought her anything else. We scurried out of there as quickly as possible and made up for it when we picked up some yummy Italian pizza for Tara on our way around town--and of course our daily dose of gelato. I happily had coconut and stracciatella in a cone. (I recommend you always get the cones--they're the best)
Next we stopped at the Duomo (which I am told means dome in Italian) which is the big cathedral in Siena. It is a neat two-toned building made of white and black rock (marble, I think). After admiring the massive scale of the church and the massive amount of tourists milling around and taking pictures we were on our way.
In a couple of days we will be on our way back to the US and Tara and Tyler will be on their way pedaling around the world, but now I will have a wonderful window into what their journey is like and wish them all the best with all of their adventures to come! I am so happy to have shared this time with both of them and with my parents. Keep on rollin'!