The Italian countryside on the train rides was always beautiful and was more like the Italy I had imagined before arriving for the semester. Milan is a very urban city with little green space so it was nice to see green fields and trees again. The first destination was Siena and it is easily one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen- It literally felt like I had just gone back like 500 years. The roads were all very curvy, narrow, and built of stone, and were lined with tall buildings which looked like they had been built in the 15th century (or sometime a really long time ago!). All of the buildings were beautifully preserved and the center of the city had a large open square which was gorgeous. I shot a video of it, but I still don’t have the internet so unfortunately I can’t upload it yet! During the summer Siena is famous for holding a festival called the Palio that includes a horse race around the plaza in the center of the city. It is the only city in the world, according to a local man, that is divided into neighborhoods which each have their own mascot. During the Palio, all of the neighborhoods each have a horse which they enter into the race, so it’s like a competition between the neighborhoods. Hopefully someday I will be able to see it!
I also saw the Duomo or Cathedral of Siena which was also beautiful and was able to go inside and see all of the artwork and relics it houses. Included in the price for admission was entry into a museum and the crypt which was recently discovered under the church. The coolest thing for me was the view from the top of the museum- they have a tower you can climb up to and see the entire city and the rolling hills and farms outside of the town. The views were absolutely breathtaking and I was able to take a lot of pictures and I think I also made a video of that as well. I will have to post them so you can see what I mean!
I have heard that Tuscany has the best food in Italy and I fully understand why. My dinner in Siena was wonderful. Like I said in an earlier post, I probably eat pasta at least once a day here, but I had the best pasta I’ve had in Italy at this restaurant. It was simply pappardelle pasta with meat sauce but it was delicious, I could have probably eaten another 2 plates of it!
The next morning I had a light breakfast at the small hotel in Siena and hopped on a train to Pisa! I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from Siena because it is overshadowed by Florence and Pisa but it really surprised me in big way. Pisa on the other hand, I had always heard of because of its leaning tower so I was initially more excited about visiting it. The town itself was nice, although not nearly as enchanting as Siena and you can tell that most people only go to the city to see the leaning tower. Once I finally arrived at the site of the tower, it really was an iconic scene! I imagine it will be similar to seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. I can’t believe the tower hasn’t collapsed yet though considering it has been learning for over 500 years. My first impression was that it was very white and clean looking for being such an older structure and it was also a lot taller than I had pictured. I never knew but the tower itself was built right next to the Duomo to be the bell tower for the church! There is also a very historic cemetery next to the Duomo and another building so it is like a small complex of beautiful buildings. I was able to take a lot of pictures of everything and I even made a video of the park so that you could see all of the different buildings together.
Overall, the trip was very memorable and I saw a lot of very impressive and beautiful things. I would say that my favorite parts of the trip were walking through the streets of Siena and seeing the leaning tower of Pisa. I think that Siena might have overtaken New York as my favorite city in the world!
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