Thursday, June 8, 2017

Sensational Siena

Sadly, we only spent 1 1/2 days in Siena and probably missed much more than we saw. But what we saw was very impressive. Those who have been there will recognize all, if not most of these sights....perhaps you didn't seek out the synagogue as I did....and many of you who have never been there will recognize some of these sights too.
     For me, going to Siena brought back memories of highschool and the many things we learned in history and geography class. Remember the Etruscans?  As noted in Wikipedia, "Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns, was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. The Etruscans were a tribe of advanced people who changed the face of central Italy through their use of irrigation to reclaim previously unfarmable land, and their custom of building their settlements in well-defended hill forts."
   "According to local legend, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus and thus nephews of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Supposedly after their father's murder by Romulus, they fled Rome, taking with them the statue of the she-wolf suckling the infants." I spent a lot of time photographing sculptures and paintings of this she-wolf suckling the infants.
     One of the things I found most impressive was being able to wander down a narrow street and going into a cathedral with a magnificent interior.... and there was no one there guarding it. It was just part of the cityscape. In Vancouver, it would have guards all over the place!
    City highlights include Piazzo del Campo, the main square, the Duomo or cathedral, and many narrow and winding streets offering beautiful vistas, often over the Tuscan hills beyond. I particularly enjoyed spending some time in the former palace on the main square, which was once the seat of government, with a fascinating fresco on the ills of bad government, (thinking of BC and UK), which is now a civic museum. Here are just a few of my hundreds of photos. If you want to see more, invite me for a pizza on Commercial Drive!
The Duomo
From the main square you can see the striped facade of the Duomo. It is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever seen. The patterns on the floors, the decorated walls, the sense of space and grandeur. But I was troubled by just how much had been spent at a time when I suspect many lived on very little.
Off the main space was this library. I nearly missed it. Thank goodness I didn't

 Piazza del Campo (the Main Square)

Throughout history the main square has been the site of a horse race. I found this photo next to the toilets in one of the restaurants facing the square, where a pizza costs about twice the cost of a pizza on one of the narrow streets. Moreover, these restaurants just sell you a 0.5 l bottle of water, for the same price as 1 l elsewhere!
Civic Museum

I wondered why there was a giraffe on this banner. Hopefully someone will tell me. As an aside, giraffes are Georgia's favourite animal, and speaking of Georgia, I had to proudly take this photo of her in front of what we think is an old hospital since earlier in the day she received the contract for her new employment at the Cancer Agency in Victoria where she and Patrick are moving for a year or perhaps more. (Don't tell her I posted this!)
The Synagoga
Walking by the main square I saw a sign pointing to the synagogue, so I set off, hoping to take more pictures for my collection of Yiddishkeit around the world. Sadly, it was closed every other day, and this was one of the other days. In a city of magnificent cathedrals, the synagogue had a surprised modest exterior which seemed to fit in with the other modest residential buildings around it. I subsequently read that this was by decree; synagogues could not stand out and had to fit in. Whenever I think about the Jews of Italy I think of the movie the Garden of the Finzi Continis. But that's a story for another day.  

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