August 2, 2012
I have one more Italy post after this and then you never have to hear about it again..…..until I go there again. 🙂
One of the amazing things about Italy is that even though the country itself is younger than the US – there is so so so much history. Take for example the little Medivel Tuscan town of Siena – it was first settled in the time of the Etruscans between 900-400 BC! BC people! We totally benefited that morning from having an awesome tour guide. Everyone in Siena knows each other, it is a walled city and walking around she would point ot people and tell us gossip about this person and that person all while still being super cheery and teaching us about the history of the place she lives. She explained that it was a great day to be in Siena because the next day was Palio di Siena – a traditional medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year, on July 2nd and August 16th. The event is attended by literally everyone who lives there and then tons of tourists. And it all lasts a matter of 90 seconds. Siena retains a ward-centric culture from medieval times. Each ward (contrada) is represented by an animal or mascot, and has its own boundary and distinct identity. Contrade (which are city neighbourhoods originally formed as battalions for the city’s defense) participate in the horse race for the trophy: a painted banner, or Palio bearing an image of the Virgin Mary. Each race brings a new Palio which is commissioned by well-known artists and Palios won over many years can often be seen in the local Contrade museum. During each Palio period, the city is decked out in lamps and flags bearing the Contrade colours. It was quite fun to see and the town was bustling. Everyone from the different contrades were making fun of each other as they passed through town. Our guide was from the Silkworm contrade. Not caterpillar, silkworm, she didn’t like to be called a caterpillar.
We went to Machiavelli’s estate to tour it and grab some wine and lunch. It was quite interesting. And a beautiful place to be exiled.
I make pet friends everywhere. I decided his name was Niccolo.
Lucca – there really wasn’t much to Lucca. Maybe that is because it was a Sunday and hardly anything was opened. It became a Roman colony in 180 BC. Holy crap. I bought melon liqueur there and paid to go the bathroom. That was about it. I would love to go back one day to see if when people are out and about and it doesn’t look super deserted. And because I want to ride a bike around the wall!! That would be so fun!
Pisa. Although Pisa is known worldwide for the leaning tower, the city of over 88,332 residents (around 200,000 with the metropolitan area) contains more than 20 other historic churches, several palaces and various bridges across the River Arno. But dude, who cares?!?!?! This leaning tower was so cool!!!! We literally were there long enough to use our climb tickets and that was it which is fine by me. I was totally fascinated by this leaning tower. Remember that time I came out of the underground last year and was super amazed by Big Ben in all its glory? Well, you literally just turn a corner and there is this huge leaning tower right there RIGHT THERE people! This tower that I have seen in history books since I was a little kid, is now right in front of me and leaning a whole 17 feet, which may not sound like a lot but jeez, this thing is really leaning people. In fact, walking inside is totally disorienting. I was so dizzy. And the steps are all super slippery marble. Oh man, it was so fun. Especially since Mom was the one who recommended we do this and guess what I learned? She is terrified of heights!!!!! Things to say before I purchase climb tickets to a leaning tower! Regardless, she was a trooper and got through it!! Even smiling!
My camera is straight. I promise.
We had to take a trolley from the parking lot of Pisa into Pisa. There really aren’t many cars in these cities. Anyway – this was a sign in our little trolley area. Made me giggle.
Back in Florence, we stopped for a bite and I got Lemon Soda which is legit an obsession for everyone over there and a calzone bigger than my head. And mom got that super pretty pizza.
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