Ciao! Here’s what I’ve been up to over the past few days…
As I mentioned in my last post, I had four quite uninteresting days in between coming back from Bologna and Dad arriving in Siena, in which I tried to be as productive as possible to get work out of the way. I was back on to eating healthy food and veggies (very much needed after indulging in Bologna) and had to run errands and study for upcoming exams. I went back to the gym, which completely destroyed me, ngl – proper working out after a five day unhealthy break is hard! I also went to Maudit with Jess, Emilia, Emi, Megan, and Ivo and his girlfriend. It was a fun night as per, but it was so empty because most students were still home for Easter… On Tuesday afternoon it was freezing but I met with Aksel, a French Erasmus student, to go for coffee and speak a bit of French and Spanish – downside was it took me forever to fall asleep that night because of the caffeine!
On Thursday I was back in my French lecture and then ran some errands to have everything ready because that night we were having Spanish night at mine. I cooked paella – starting to become a specialty – and Vero, Emilia, Jess and Megan came over with sangria and strawberries. It was a lovely get together before Jess and Megan went back home for the break. We have to organize dinners more often!
On Friday I again had a French lecture and then Emilia, Dan, Jess and I decided to try that Asian all-you-can-eat place in Via Pantaneto. We ordered a tonne of sushi and it was fairly good for 13 euros! We filled up our bellies with something other than pizza and pasta!
On Saturday I cleaned the house, again run some errands and finished some more work while I waited for Dad to arrive. I was planning on going to the gym but I was knackered from crossfit the night before so I stayed in instead and got more things for class done. Unfortunately Dad’s flight was diverted to Bologna so it took him a lot longer to arrive in Siena. Vueling and Italian transport is not great, so it was definitely unlucky that he ended up having to travel all day… I ended up picking him from Gramsci at around half nine. He was exhausted but it was lovely to finally see him again. I showed him home and he unpacked and settled in (I also now have my Summer clothes yay!).
On Sunday we woke up at around 10 and got ready to go on a tour of Siena. I showed him around most places: San Domenico (where we got to see the crypt which I think might be the Contrada del Drago church), Fonte Branda, the Duomo where a Contrada procession came out of, San Marco and the views from there, Mattioli, Orto Tolomei,… The weather was nice because the sun came out but wasn’t too strong. We had lunch at Dino’s – pappardelle al ragù di cinghiale, crostini, vino bianco della casa and tiramisú. The waiter happened to be one of the cinema students! The food was alright, but not the best. Then we went to Museo Contrada Capitana dell’Onda which was open and had a private tour – the lady didn’t speak any English or Spanish, but Dad got around with the Italian. As always, definitely worth it if you are around Siena on a Sunday! We continued the tour to Piazza del Mercato, Piazza del Campo, Via Pantaneto and down to San Niccolò before coming back home – we were so tired! We tried ricciarelli from Sclavi after dinner and organized the next few days before going to bed.
On Monday we got up early planning to head down to the station and rent a car. Turned out two of the three companies were closed and Hertz was too expensive, so rather than renting a car we took the bus to explore the Tuscan countryside. We went to Buonconvento, a tiny town south of Siena. It has a medieval fort and a couple of towers, as well as a tonne of beautiful flowers in gardens and balconies and flags showing off their ‘boghi più belli d’Italia’ status. We had lunch in a restaurant just outside the wall: risotto with carciofi, lasagne and an assortment of different hams. The food was very good but I didn’t like the flavour of my risotto, which was unfortunate.
We then took the bus to Montalcino, a bigger medieval town on top of a hill, famous for its wines Brunello and Rosso di Montalcino. There are a few different churches –none out of the ordinary-, a fort and a lovely view of the crete senese or Sienese hills. The sun had come out so we spent an hour or so exploring the town (not very big so it didn’t take long) and then sat down under the sun and had a chat and something to eat while we waited for the bus back to Siena. It was a lovely day. Exploring the countryside is a lot easier when you have a car, but totally do-able if you don’t!
On Tuesday we decided to sleep in and stay in Siena to gain forces for Florence the following day. It was Giornata della Liberazione, which is a public holiday in Italy. I slept in, showered and got some work done while Dad went out to explore Siena on his own. It was a pretty chill day as all I really did was work for a bit, do some reading (I finally finished Anna by Niccolò Ammaniti!) and then Dad and I decided to go out on a walk to La Fortezza before coming back home.
On Wednesday we woke up early to catch the 9am bus to Florence, which took slightly longer than usual because of the traffic. It was also a gloomy day which was not the best for a Tuscan holiday, but we got away with only a few raindrops so that was fortunate. Once we arrived in Florence we decided to make our way down to the Arno and took a couple of pictures by Ponte Vecchio. We then headed to the Klimt Experience exhibition at Santo Stefano al Ponte, which was an interesting one. They had virtual reality masks and projections and music over the church chapel’s walls. It was interesting, I really like Klimt and hope to one day see his original paintings, but for now this was pretty cool.
After Klimt we decided to grab some lunch and headed towards the other side of Ponte Vecchio with the intention of finding a less touristy place… Without realizing Palazzo Pitti is right in that direction so it was full of tourists. Instead, we traced back over our steps and went towards the back of the Uffizi and got some schiacchiata fiorentina with different fillings from a corner shop. The man was really nice and it made for a quick lunch before heading to the Uffizi Gallery. We’d booked the tickets in advance so all we had to do was pick them up and head inside but it was poorly organized and it still took a while to get in. The Uffizi itself was a great experience, particularly seeing Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and Allegory of Spring in real life. For some reason I thought they’d have that glaze that medieval paintings have, but the colours are actually quite pastel. I really enjoyed it. I also got to see a couple other great works by Giotto, a replica of the Laoconte that I had to study for high school and Leonardo Da Vinci’s restored Adoration of the Magi. Of course, the Tribuna and the main corridors were also amazing. Unfortunately, a couple of the rooms were closed which was a pity but I got to see most of the main works.
After the Uffizi we decided to try to get into the Accademia, but when we got there the queue was massive so we walked past and onto San Marco to see Fra Angelico’s frescoes – turns out the museum is only open during the morning so it was closed when we got there! Instead, we stopped at a café for coffee and some pastries as a pick-me-up after so much walking. Then we went back to the Duomo area and had a look around the shopping streets and found Hannibal Lecter’s bore statue in the market. Then we decided it was time to go back home so we took the bus back at six. Once back in Siena we gave Pomodorino a shot and were lucky enough that they had a table for us – we had some pizza and wine for dinner and, as per usual, they were so tasty!
On Thursday I had a lecture so we stayed in Siena. I spent the morning doing some work while Dad went out for a walk and then I had lunch and head out for the cinema lesson and to run some errands. After my class it was rainy and gloomy but I met Dad at the Piazza and we went to the Museo di Storia Naturale dell’Accademia dei Fisiocritici which was open that afternoon for an Assembly and museum visits. It was really cool – two floors full of different specimens of everything: minerals, fossils, bugs, human parts, animals, birds… It was amazing, displayed 1800s style in large vitrines with tags and original signs. We also went to the cellar where there is a planetarium and walked inside a drained well – it was so bizarre! Definitely worth popping in if you find it open, it is free entry and the exhibition is worth it!
After that we walked under the rain to get back home and put the heating to dry our clothes and then just relaxed and packed our bags for the weekend. Tomorrow we’re going to Pisa and we are planning on visiting Cinque Terre and Lucca, so I’m looking forward to that! More adventures to come soon!