Sunday, October 29, 2006

Friday, 27th October – Florence to Siena

One last morning in Florence and one more “must-see” museum – the Museum of San Marco. This museum is in a Domenican monastery built in the 14th century, and decorated with dozens of frescoes by Fra Angelico (and others) a Dominican Friar who was one of the most important painters of the early renaissance. The theology & chronology of the work is a bit of a worry (St Dominic features in every scene, even the crucifixion) but the art is wonderful and it’s great seeing it in the place it was created and intended for. We bussed back to the centre of Florence and walked back to our hotel, after a quick perusal of the Mercato Nuovo (markets). This is the location of Il Porcellino, the bronze pig of which there is a copy outside Sydney Hospital.

Caught another bus (they have these really cute short electric buses which are great except they make no noise so can sneak up on you when you’re walking on the so-called pedestrian friendly streets) to the Bus Station, where we caught a bus to Siena. We felt like temporary locals, using public transport – and the bus was hot, crowded and bumpy - I think we’ll stick to the train in future. When we arrived in Siena, we were dropped off in the street (no bus station, tourist info or anything) so we had fun trying to figure out how and where to catch a taxi. (We had to get a taxi to the hotel because we had no idea where it was). At the hotel no-one seems to speak English, so our 3 words of Italian are getting well and truly tested.

We walked into the Centro Storico (historic centre) to see the Piazza del Campo (it was about 7pm and dark). One of the most famous “squares” in the world, it is a huge fan-shaped space set on a slight slope, which is the centre of social and political activity in the city. It was full of people – students, tourists, families, people sitting, strolling, playing soccer, and taking photographs. We found a nice restaurant and had dinner (off the Campo) and had an early night – with only one day to “do” Siena, it will be full on tomorrow.