Monday, February 13, 2012

Views of Italy: Siena

Siena, a robust mountain town 30 miles outside Florence, was not what I expected. The central walled city, a common find in rural Italy, was surrounded by a bustling Tuscan city home to thousands. In its center sat the historic rival to Florence and birthplace of St Catherine, patron saint of Europe.

The Duomo is impressive as it sits, beautiful on the inside and one of the largest in Italy. This makes the fact that they had planned an expansion in the 1300s that would have made the current nave merely the apse and extended a new nave hundreds of feet to the east that much more impressive. Plague decimated the population before it could be completed (damn rats), but the view from the completed base is spectacular, doubly so when the countryside is covered in a pristine blanket of snow.

The train trip out and back was short and pleasant, so Siena is a day trip anyone in Florence should consider. In fact, I met several visitors to Florence that had spent the weekend in Siena and spoke highly of their stay.
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