I arrived in Siena before it got dark, and checked in at the Santa Caterina Hotel. It’s a nice place just outside the Via Romana Gate of the old town. After checking in I did a walkthrough of Siena, had a look at the magnificent architecture of the cathedral, and the main square called the Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio Horse Race is run twice yearly.
It’s a stunning town, and just about perfect to walk through. The last time I was in Siena I was on a day trip from Firenze, and only had a couple of hours to walk around. This time I was able to spend some time, and get some photos.
The next day, Thursday, I took the car out into the countryside and visited the Abbey of Sant’ Antimo, south of Siena, near Pienza. It was founded in 1319. Walking its grounds and looking at the aging that the centuries has worn into the stones gives me that feeling of insignificance that comes when confronted with such antiquity.
I drove on to Pienza, a town that is famous for the quality of its Pecorino di Pienza. It’s a locally made sheep’s milk cheese that is famous in cheese culture for its creamy deliciousness. I bought a small chunk to eat later, and had a very nice lunch at a small restaurant in an out-of-the-way alley.
Upon my return to Siena in the late afternoon I walked into the center of the old town with an umbrella I wisely borrowed from the hotel. One nice thing about the thunderstorms is that it tends to clear out the streets. When the thunder cracked overhead it reverberated through the brick wall lined streets most satisfactorily.