We awoke Thursday morning, our only goal for the day to see the Duomo di Siena and to wander throughout the walled city of Siena. We successfully accomplished both. Walking into the Duomo is like walking into the inspiration for Tim Burton’s movies. There are soaring columns of black and white striped marble reaching to the heavens.
It’s hard to remember to look at the floor, which is said to be the most impressive feature of the cathedral and contains dozens of inlaid marble scenes. My eyes continually were pulled upward, the majestic domes covered in blue and gold stars, the busts of over 500 popes flanking the edge of the ceiling. The library, with its colorful oversized choir books on display, mesmerized us. We were transported to a time well before the printing press was invented, staring at a few large notes calligraphied on each page.
We climbed stairs (one of my favorite things to do) to take in an expansive view of the area around the Duomo.
We viewed more religious artwork than either of us had seen in our entire lives combined. And we wandered. Turned down this street and that. Saw a small alley and followed it to its end. Suddenly surprised with a breathtaking view of the countryside as we rounded a corner and peered over the wall of the city. We stopped for lunch, dining al fresco at a restaurant chosen because it had orange tablecloths – what better criteria to choose a restaurant?
And then, gelato in the afternoon, a delightful combination of tiramisu and coffee (because she made a face and refused to serve me when I ordered tiramisu and coconut, saying they don’t go together).
We spent the late afternoon on the patio of our hotel, sharing a carafe of wine (and complimentary potato chips), writing postcards and learning more about the region. We really couldn’t have asked for a better first day in Siena.