Siena, Part One: A Quick Mental Getaway

A little note: I have to admit I’m writing this post rather late. Like a lot of people, I’ve spent many hours in the past few days watching the devastation in Japan unfold. My heart aches for everyone affected by the earthquake and I wish I could give more, do more, and help somehow.

So with that being said, I’ll just do a quick “daydream destination” post tonight. I think sometimes it’s good to take a minute to try to unwind a bit from the constant barrage of bad news and haunting images.

After talking about my love affair with Florence last Monday I think it’s only right for me to take you down my little rabbit hole of Tuscany-love even further.

After Florence, I found that the cities, towns, and countryside of Tuscany were wonderfully varied and full of surprises. It seems logical to follow-up Florence with its former rival, Siena.


I remember getting off the bus on my first visit. It was on a small tour I took with 3 friends, some chaperones, and our teacher in high school. The driver parked outside one of the city’s old arched entrances and we all happily tumbled out of the bus to stretch our legs and see what this new city had in store for us.

Just opposite of the archway was a stone wall overlooking the countryside surrounding Siena. It was November, the week of American Thanksgiving, and fall was starting to turn the landscape from green to gold. Although the sun was out, the farmland and the houses that dotted the landscape looked as if they were in soft focus.

It was breathtaking. I distinctly remember feeling like I was in a fairy-tale come to life. After a few minutes of trying to soak it all in, I finally tore myself away from that vista. Together with my classmates, we walked under the archway and into the medieval city on cobbled streets smoothed by hundreds of years use.  The fairy-tale feeling continued. It was like going back in time but still having all the amenities of modern society.

Siena is one of those places that I think a lot of people see on a  quick day-trip and then move on to the next site to see. I have a strong hunch, though, that there’s more to Siena than first meets the eye. Each time I visit, I leave wanting more, wishing I had given the city more time to reveal itself to me.

Tomorrow I'll share a bit more of what I think makes Siena special.