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Sunday 19 August 2007

CK Goes to Italy – Siena

Siena is a medieval town about 50 km south of Florence. The best way to get there from Florence is by taking the SITA buses which leave for Siena every half-hour. On the 21st of May, 2006, I boarded one of these buses at the SITA Bus Station near to Stazione di Santa Maria Novella at 9:10 a.m. and I was on my way to Siena.

About one-and-a-quarter hour later, I was already at the bus terminal of Siena, Piazza Gramsci, ready to explore this interesting town built on hills and valleys.

In order to get to the town centre, I had to past through the narrow streets with medieval buildings. Even the street lights are different from the ordinary.

The town is lined with swirling streets that is quite a labyrinth even with a map in hand.

Even if I was a bit lost and confused with the street layout sometimes, I enjoyed every moment of discovering nice buildings at all corners.

Sometimes I came across some small squares where the buildings are occupied by shops selling souvenirs.

I was about to pass through another swirling street again to get to the town centre.

While manoeuvring myself through the streets, I found some street performers along the way. This one looks like he's going to slay a dragon, but could he?

The first main squares that I have visited is this Piazza del Duomo. The magnificent Gothic cathedral Duomo with its soaring bell tower occupies the centre of the square.

The front facade of the Duomo was under restoration during the time of my visit, so I could only imagine the look through the painted safety net.

The bell tower was built with intermittent white and green marbles, making its look a resemblance of our Nyonya 'Kueh Salat.' If they had used more colours, then it'll look like the 'Kuih Lapis Rainbow!'

Can any of the Nyonya food specialist make a 'Kueh Salat' like this? The longer I stare at it, the more food like it is, haha!

OK! 'Kueh Salat' and 'Kueh Lapis Rainbow' aside. Let us take a look inside the Duomo. This is the main dome of the cathedral with stained-glass windows.

The columns of the cathedral are lined with intermittent white and black marbles. Another type of 'Kueh Salat' again?

I aimed my camera at higher viewpoint to get the dome in the view with the columns with black and white marbles.

When I pointed my camera to a lower viewpoint, I saw this marvelous floor painting made of multi-coloured marbles.

Thank goodness that they only used the multi-coloured marbles to decorate the floor and not the bell tower. It would have turned into a 'Kuih Lapis Rainbow' if they did, haha!

The floor of the Duomo is filled with these sprawling paintings. Imagine that the people in the old days were stepping on these artwork!

Yet, there are more of them to be found on the floor.

After looking at something that looks like 'Kueh Salat,' my stomach started to grouch for food. Let me try this restaurant recommended in the Lonely Planet travel guide, Osteria da Cice.

The restaurant was full of patrons, so it gotta be good.

I ordered a green salad and a plate of fettuccine (ribbon pasta) cooked in tomato paste and wild boar meat.

A closer look at the fettuccine could cause a non-stop salivating. I gotta tuck in. The Lonely Planet travel guide has never failed on me!

After a satisfactory lunch, I continued on exploring Siena. I went to the next main square of Siena, the Piazza del Campo. Piazza del Campo is a sloping square with Palazzo Comunale at its lowest point.

The beautiful Palazzo Comunale is also known as Palazzo Pubblico, or town hall, with the bell tower soaring high above it.

This is where I entered Piazza del Campo where the Palazzo Comunale stands proudly at one end of the square.

Right opposite Palazzo Comunale is this Fonte Gaia (Gay Fountain) located at the highest point of the slanting Piazza del Campo.

The 15-th century sculpture of the Fonte Gaia has become the resting place for pigeons swarming Piazza del Campo.

Some other sculptures of the fountain are also the convenient 'parking' place for the pigeons.

Leaving Piazza del Campo, I circled around the city walls to the viewpoint where I could have a panoramic view of the town centre of Siena. The soaring bell tower of Palazzo Comunale can be seen from almost everywhere around the city walls.

The 'Kuih Salat' can also be seen very clearly from almost everywhere.

With the buildings built on hills and valleys, they formed a very nice landscape for me to keep on snapping.

With another hour to spare before the bus leave for Florence, I decided to roam around the supermarket to see if I could spot some interesting stuff. The spread of Black Krim tomatoes first caught my eyes.

And these pink-shelled peas are new to me. Can anyone identify it for me?

How could an Italian supermarket be short of pasta?

At 5:40 p.m., I boarded the bus back to Florence. Along the way, I could see spectacular scenes of rolling hill countries of the Central Tuscany region rolling pass the bus windows. It was really a nice experience watching all these scenes in the comfort of an air-conditioned bus.

Somewhere near the SITA Bus Station in Florence, the bus passed through some retaining walls with wild bushes above.

Minutes later, I arrived at the bus station in Florence and took a slow walk back to the hotel.

If you would like to read my other posts on Italy, these are the links:

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