What? Another rest day so soon. Yep.
We’d always planned this one and although we don’t need it physically we will certainly be happy to act as a tourist once again.
JeanYves and Paulo have moved on, so we made them breakfast and said our goodbyes. They both got a key for their companionship and help over the weeks.
The wifi in this place didn’t work well so I struggled posting last night – apologies for the lack of content. Today will be packed with touristy stuff since we plan to visit the Duomo and some other fun places. From tomorrow on however it will be non-stop to Roma (only 12 days more walking….and some of those days are quite short).
First a bit of background. In the Middle Ages, Siena was the place to be … well, sort of. It was a hugely prosperous town and as such was seemingly always at war with its neighbor Florence.
At its height, it had about 50,000 people. Then in 1348 the Black Death slammed into the city, and it lost as many as 60% of its residents. Florence and Milan recovered, but Siena never did (until recently however).
Back in the day, Siena was all about banking and actually houses the oldest continuously run bank in the world. Being wealthy it also subsidized the arts and was home to dozens of famous Renaissance artists. The Sienese school was arguably the top in the renaissance world.
Siena is also a pilgrimage town being located on the Via Francigena. Hence our visit to this beautiful city.
We started our tour with the pilgrim hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. It was a hospital to serve pilgrims, the sick, and the abandoned until 1970. I can only imagine being sick and cared for with frescoes surrounding me. We are in Italy and the art was already there. The art work was breath taking!
Our next tourist stop was the tour of the stairs to the sky which meant that we were able to climb up into the roof of the cathedral and see it’s construction and some really cool views of the cathedral floor below and the statuary and stained glass up close.
During the climb up, I appreciated how good shape we are in. We felt the climb of course, but it was really nothing to us. Several others however really struggled and had to stop multiple times to catch their breath. Several emerged from the steps panting and sweating with the effort. We hardly noticed. I’m not writing this to brag. This would have been me years ago.
We then took a break in playing tourist and headed back to our lodging for lunch. We had fun shopping for lunch in a local shop. We settled on meatballs mixed with vegetables and a spinach and cheese patty. And because this is a day of rest a nap followed lunch.
After doing some laundry and making reservations for a couple of days ahead. This is a. necessity for every pilgrim but a frustration too as many places are closed or recently large tourist groups book and places are full. I did not realize that large groups would be allowed to stay in pilgrim facilities. Lodging on the VF in Italy has been challenging. We have had to be creative and have used airbnb several times which means paying more than pilgrim lodging.But we were able to split the cost with others and that eased the pain.
After our rest we went to finish a day of touring by climbing the remains of yet another structure (The Museo) for some glorious views on a structure that seemed to defy “sound” structural design.
As we headed back to our apartment we stopped at a wine bar to play tourist one last time. This place was actually very professional and well informed. I recommend Treflari located at Via Banchi di Sotto near Il Campo.
Well, that’s the day folks. I have 1000 photos but you’ll have to do with these unless you ask for more. It was a beautiful day.