Monday, July 03, 2006

MONDAY, JULY 03: - DAY 18 Monteriggione To Sienna 18.9km

Sylvia: Monteriggione was sleeping and deserted when we walked out of the Romea Gate at 6.30am this morning. After a few KM's of walking through fields and a lovely shady forest we turned to look back at the imposing sight of the castle enclave perched on top of the hill behind us in the distance. Ahead of us was another forest and two medieval castles - the grand, crenalated towers of Castella della Chiacciola and the Villa Castella which also includes a few other medieval builds and walls. Once we were out of the fields and vineyards, it was on the provincial roads for about 2km. We stopped at a roadside cafe bar for something to eat and drink. Our Cryptic Clue guide told us to get a bus into Sienna - not to walk on the dangerously busy road into the city. I showed our map to a local and he told us that the Ostello Gioventu (youth hostel) was only 1km further along the road. It was actually 2km but we risked the busy road, arrived safely, checked in, left our backpacks and caught a bus into Sienna. We could see why the guide warned against walking into town and we bought tickets for tomorrow and will get a bus into town before finding our way out and onto Lucignano D'Ariba. The City of Sienna covers a number of hills, is a warren of alleys and steep, narrow roads. The main square is shaped like a scallop shell - divided into 9 sections (alluding to the Council of Nine who ruled the City in the 14th Century). According to the 'blurb' on my leaflet, the black death struck this city in 1348, and this together with political strife resulted in the city declining into little more than a market town. Because of this, much of the original architecture was preserved until today. We had lunch in the 'Campo' and did some sightseeing. Tried to post Val's parcel with no success. Got the bus back to the Hostel. Sienna Hostel is large - 46 rooms and 100 beds. Val, Marion and I are in a room with a bed and a double bunk. I took the matress down from the top bunk and put it on the floor - much more comfortable. The Ostello has laundry facilities, vending machines for hot and cold drinks, sweets etc. Breakfast E1.67, overnight stay E13.94 and lunch or dinner E9.48. A bus into town cost us E.90c.

Kathy: Have decided that in her previous life, Sylvia was a Homing Pigeon. She has an extraordinary innate ability to find our route, markets, accommodation etc. etc. We have great faith that she will guide us 'home' each evening. Val, on the other hand was the genteel, informed Lady of the Manor. She knows how and where to enjoy the good things in life. Marion was the faithfully, caring companion who accompanied her waurds everywhere and ensured their comfort and wellbeing. Rayna must have been a merchant. She is the money handler and sorter out of note! And currently our big spender (next to Val). Kathy on the other hand was furry and lived outdoors. I was a mountain goat (loved the terrain, the hillier the better) plus smelly, scratched and scruffy.

Sienna is famous for its horserace (El Palio) that is staged through the centre square (Il Campo). While many Italian towns host horse races, apparently Sienna's is the best known one. In Sienna centre, we saw a number of pictures of the race and there was the same track through the square so we wondered when the race had been. Well - we had missed it by one day. The race had been on Sunday 2 July. While it must be spectacular, I'm pleased I missed it, in some way, as it appears that it is dangerous and many of the pictures showed fallen horses (Don't Like!).

Rayna: Ok, seems like I am the 'money body' - so Dave you will appreciate this one. We all pay for things (food etc.) in turns and the other four people refund you. So it goes something like this. For example; one Internet split, Kathy pays E5, Val pays E5 and Syl E4. We then all pay Kathy E1 (including Val and Syl) then we all pay Val each E1 (including Kathy and Syl) then we all pay Syl E.80c (including Kathy and Val) is this making sense? Coz this is how we shuffle our change around all the time, countless times in a day - at the end of each day, all debts are settled and we sleep comfortably - it is called the Redistribution of Wealth.

Marion: This morning we left Monteriggioni bright and early - but without much breakfast, all of the shops were closed and we had to make do with an apple and not much more. My apple was flourery, (awful), offered some to Syl and wisely she declined. We began our walk by first walking down a tarred road for a short while and then went through a cool forest and through a couple of fields before coming back to the road. We also walked through an ancient Medieval village. We do so well with our cryptic clue, sometimes they are so funny like this one - 'in the forest we turn left on a road, a very unconnected one, to the crossroads in means to the straight forest, until arriving at a dirt road that we climb. Sienna is tremendous, so much to see, unfortunately don't have time to see it all.

Val: I walked to Sienna today with Pavarotti, Domingoe and pals also Il Diva boys, it was goosebump stuff. I felt like the only person around, as if they were singing just for me - I half expencted to look across the valley, this perfect Tuscany landscape and see them on the hill - filling the valley with their splendid tones.

Back to reality, we reach Sienna. Dump our backpacks and head to the centre. Sienna is architecurally imposing - unfortunately too busy to really enjoy - many stout tourists with even bigger vocal cords. Shopkeepers and restaurnat staff act as if they are at the end of their tether with the tourist season. They lump us in with the rest.

We cannot shop so we hit the restaurant - we probably won't eat out tonight as we are 6km from the Centre so....I had a glass of Sparkling and Carpaccio Bresaola, rucola e grana (cured meat with rocket salad and paremsan E7 - delicious 'Heaven'!

The girls had Tremazzinis - which were white (very dry) bread sandwiches - not toasted as we are uased to and Kathy and Rayna two really good salads for E5.50. Tomorrow we head back into the hills and look forward to it.

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