Monday, May 21, 2012


We all met early this morning to take the 8:50 bus to the Tuscan town of Siena, which is most known for its horse races in the palio, which are held in the Piazza del Campo.  Three of the students gave a presentation on the horse races in the space that the event takes place in.

We all anticipated and prepared for an entire day of rain, but luck and prayers were on our side to clear the skies after an hour in Siena which made for a beautiful sunny lunch.  The cathedral was our next stop and is one of the most interesting in Italy, with ornate marble designs, busts of each pope line the ceiling, and massive carvings are scattered around the floor.

During the heat of the afternoon, we all enjoyed a huge three scoop cone of gelato before we climbed the 400 steps to the top of the bell tower in the Piazza del Campo.  The climb was slightly treacherous with low ceilings, worn steps and the threat of rain on the horizon, but we managed the journey with ease.  The views fom the 335 foot tower were incredible of the tuscan countryside, which we all took memory of.  None of us wanted to return to ground level and away from the spectacular scenes around Siena.

A later bus than anticipated brought us back to Florence for dinner and a break for the evening.  Rain returned to us, but we won't let it stop us from enjoying and exploring this magnificent italian city.


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    Siena prospered as a city-state, becoming a major centre of money lending and an important player in the wool trade. It was governed at first directly by its bishop, but episcopal power declined during the 12th century. The bishop was forced to concede a greater say in the running of the city to the nobility in exchange for their help during a territorial dispute with Arezzo, and this started a process which culminated in 1167 when the commune of Siena declared its independence from episcopal control. By 1179, it had a written constitution.
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