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!
|Off the main space was this library. I nearly missed it. Thank goodness I didn't|
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.