Wednesday, October 26, 2011

6:30 - 7:30 - 8:30 Italian Style - Day 4

Siena, Italy

6:30 - 7:30 - 8:30

Today was another early morning as we headed south to the town of Siena Italy. The weather was iffy and most likely turning into showers with the hills being completely hidden by the fog. But we piled onto the bus for our two hour ride to see the famous The Palio, and to visit San Domenico and Madre Teresa di Calcutta.

Siena Italy is famous for many things but the most is The Palio is a horse race that is raced twice a year on July 2 and August 16  in Siena. The Palio held on July 2 is named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, who has a church in Siena. The Palio held on August 16 is named Palio dell'Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary.

In the Palio the various Sienese "contrade", or areas in which the city is divided, challenge in other in a passionate horse race in the heart of the city in the Piazza del Campo.

Originally, there were about fifty-nine "Contrade"; now only seventeen remain, ten of which take part in the historical pageant and in the race at each Palio (seven by right and three drawn by lots).

The 17 Contrade are: Eagle, Snail, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Owl, Unicorn, Shell, Tower, Ram, Caterpillar, Dragon, Giraffe, Porcupine, She-Wolf, Goose.

Each Contrada has its own unique emblem and colors and represents an area of the city. As one walks through the streets of Siena it is easy to know in which Contrada you currently are in by observing the flags and emblems displayed along the street.

The race itself, in which the jockeys ride bareback, circles the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid, three times and usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is not uncommon for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza, and indeed it is not unusual to see unmounted horses finishing the race without their jockeys.

A perfect example of a race was including the opening segmant to Quantum of Solace Horse Race Scene.

Quantum of Solace Horse Race Scene Video

To reach the piazza we walked a good 20 mins, streets were cobble stone uneven and basically up hill and winding.

Kinda Creepy But Note Worthy

Our first stop was the ornate reliquary in the Basilica San Domenico in Siena where the dismembered, mummified head of the revered Saint Catherine of Siena (1347-1380). Her right thumb also resides in a smaller reliquary not far from her head. This was truly amazing she originally died in Rome and the people of Siena wanted her body back but were not allowed. So they went to steal her body to bring back but they realized there was no way that they could get past the Rome guards and decided to just bring her head in a paper bag. Today it rests in the Church of San Dominico  near her disembodied thumb, in the Church of San Dominico of Siena, Italy.

St. Catherine of Siena's Severed Head

St. Catherine of Siena's Severed Thumb

The following are images taken during my visit to Siena:

Piazza del Campo where the race is held.


Such a charming man with such class, my new friend Paolo

Hidden stair cases that welcome you.

When in Italia you must like a glass of wine have
Gelato at least twice a day.
Beautiful flower shops.

Love love love the doors here and the unique openers.

This pizza looks sooooooooooooooo good.

Center of Piazza del Campo where we
enjoyed a lovely lunch.

I love how the clouds look in this
photo so soft and airy - Mangia Tower on Piazza del Campo

Beautiful fountains
I love the curves of the buildings so beautiful.

While enjoying our lunch the clouds decided to get angry.

And angrier.

even more

And then it was beautiful again, a little rain but
nothing that would stop such a beautiful day.

I love how you drive into a building and park in
the core of the building like a hidden secret.

I loved this store window for both the
jewelry but the shoes too.

Hidden secrets, I love this shot!
Simply amazing a door with a beautiful fountain,
again this is one of those hidden squares.

Beautiful cheese shop.

I love how these iron poster holders.

We stop for a drink and I decided to look up and found
these beautiful cloud formations. Church of San Dominico of Siena, Italy.

What a beautiful walk back to the bus.

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