Friday, October 28, 2011

Last day in Siena

I really, really love Siena. It's possibly the most beautiful city I've ever been to. Yes, I've been to Paris, I've been to Rome, I've been to Prague, but none of them can quite match little Siena's stunning visual beauty and dramatic hilltop setting. Plus, nothing in those cities can quite match the harmonious and graceful beauty of Il Campo - the most perfect public space in Europe, if not the world. So, I'm sad that, once again, I'm leaving Siena, and who knows when we'll be able to return. I really, truly hope that it's sooner rather than later.

After breakfast in the communal dining area with a very non-friendly German couple (the wife of whom likes to show off her perfect Italian when talking to the bed & breakfast proprietors), we headed off to the Palazzo Pubblico to ascend the Torre del Mangia. First, I'm saddened to report that the jerk-off lady with blonde wavy hair who works there and who yelled at me four years ago for going to the public restroom at the base of the tower, is still working there. This time, she merely acted like she didn't understand at all what I was saying when I kindly said, "Buongiorno, due, per favore." But after that, we hastily ascended the tower's claustrophobic, winding staircase, and were met with gloriously stunning, panoramic views of Siena and the surrounding countryside. Around the city's perimeter, you could see blankets of dissipating fog, which added a nice kind of atmosphere to the landscape.

After that, we basically spent the day strolling through the city, checked out the church of Santa Maria dei Servi (which had a glass coffin displaying the entire skeleton of some local saint), walked through the massive Orta dei Pecci, which are communal gardens in the little valley south of the Palazzo Pubblico, then up through the outdoor mercato in the Piazza del Mercato. After lunch at a surprisingly really good (and cheap) pizza place (which I wish we'd tried sooner), we went down to the Fontebranda. We also did a lot of lounging in Il Campo, soaking up the scenery and atmosphere.

Amusingly, at one point a female Carabinieri began walking through Il Campo and at first, scolded a family of German tourists for feeding the pigeons. I was happy she did this because said family was sitting not far behind us, and the flock of pigeons was kind of annoying. (I mean, unless you're Bert from Sesame Street, why on earth would you want to attract hordes of pigeons who just poop and flap around and make a commotion?). But then she continued to make her way through the Campo, telling several people who were lying down that they had to sit up (!), and even went to one reclining hippie-ish looking couple, and told them to sit up and, apparently, to put their shoes back on! A few people at the other end of the piazza seemed to be napping, as it took a while for them to respond to the fascist boot-girl's commands and get up. Terezia and I immediately dubbed her the "killer of fun," because she seemed to relish harshing the mellow of these people who were innocently enjoying the sunny afternoon in Il Campo. I'm sure this ultimately has to do with some vagrancy law, probably designed to prevent people from camping out on the piazza. Still, I can't understand how reclining on the piazza during the daytime is going to hurt anyone. Interestingly, I'd never seen the Carabinieri do this before on either of my previous visits to Siena.

Later we saw some female mannequins in a store front, all with pastel colored stockings fitted over their heads. Bank-robber chic?

For dinner, we went to what wound up being a crappy place called Trattoria Taverna Bagoga, or something like that. The place has all these Slow Food and culinary awards on the walls, but honestly, the food was crap. I had pici with (yet again) funghi porcini, which was over salted, while Terezia had these insultingly bland and clearly unfresh raviolis with truffle sauce. The truffle flavor was so faint you kind of had to pretend it was there. We split a secondo of braised cinghiale (wild boar), which was just okay. The chef was clearly on autopilot and has been for years. We had several recommended places on a list that I had compiled, and we chose this over the others because the menu looked a bit more exciting. Oh well. Siena can be a tricky town for finding good food, and I suppose every town has to have at least one subpar food experience, and this was it. We trudged back to the hotel, feeling defeated, but also sad that this is to be our last night in Siena.

Tomorrow, Perugia!

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