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Maurice Greer’s Travel Diary

Tuesday, 20 Oct 2009

Location: Siena area, Italy

MapToday we drove into Siena and parked close to the old centre. We took several escalators from inside one of the old city gates up to the street level close to the Duomo (cathedral). We were impressed by this huge church built in the 14th century and finished in light marble with dark horizontal stripes. The front façade has three large doors and is decorated with many spires and statues of people and animals. There are also pink coloured marble rope-like accents around the doors. High on some gables there are paintings with some gold leaf details that shine in the sun. The bell tower has alternating light and dark marble horizontal stripes. It has six levels of windows with the lowest one being a single opening, the next one divided in two openings and so on to the top level which is divided into six openings. An expansion was started later in the 14th century but abandoned after some structural and financial problems (a recession?). Part of this structure has a high catwalk that can be accessed for views over the city but, with 130 steps, we decided it wasn’t for us today. We continued our walk around the old city following a small map from a tourist brochure but we were a bit disappointed in some of the buildings it listed. One exception was an interesting fountain, Fonte Delle Monache, hidden in a cave below a former monastery garden. Finally, after much walking, we arrived at the main city square, Il Campo, which is roughly fan shaped and has some interesting buildings around it, most containing restaurants and shops and the TI where we picked up a better map. The square slopes toward the narrow end which has the Palazzo Pubblico, now the town hall. One side of this building is connected to a spectacular tower, Torre del Mangia, built in the 14th century, over 100 metres tall and the second highest of its kind in Italy. The square also has an interesting fountain with marble statues including wolves that spout water and apparently they have a horse race around the square twice a year. As it was getting too dark for photos, we decided to come back another day and drove back to our apartment in Rosia for dinner.