Florence is a beautiful place. It is bustling with Renaissance architecture, ancient museums, yellows and greens and grays. Siena, however, which is really only a short drive down the road (about an hour and a half, which is nothing compared to the 12 hour bus rides I’m used to) is not like this. I’m actually not totally sure why everyone told me that Siena has always been in competition with Florence.
Unlike Florence, Siena doesn’t really look very Renaissance-esque (but then again I’m not entirely sure what this would look like, besides having Florence as an example). Siena is a city of the Medieval, a place that looks like it would be best friends with Edinburgh, Scotland.
Siena is a little place, however, and there doesn’t seem to be a ton to see. Our Bus2Alps tour guide, Tiernan, took us to the city center, Piazza del Campo, which literally looks like a big stone field. This is also the site of where Il Palio takes place. After roaming up one of the city’s many hills (it overlooks the Tuscan countryside) we find the Duomo, which looks remarkably similar to my Duomo in Florence, although a little smaller. Apparently, this Duomo was on its way up to being bigger and better than mine, but then the Black Death came around and people had a lot better things to do than build ginormous churches.
After this short little tour of Siena, Bus2Alps took us to our next destination– a local winery called Tenuta Torciano. When I see all the pretty horses roaming about in their fields alongside the squares and squares of grapes, I know that we have come to the right place. We are led inside to a little house where a man who speaks very little English literally serves us eight glasses of wine each. And this isn’t the three euro wine that I find at the cheap grocery store down the street. I can taste the alcohol in this wine. But I’ll be damned if I have to spit it out before the next glass is served– I chug that wine down along with our meal of oily bread, salad, some kind of potato dish, lasagna, and biscotti.
The drunker we all get, the better friends we are. I make best friends with every person sitting within a five foot radius and I start to actually wonder if I’m going to vom on the bus and why I can’t see anything and it’s 1:00 pm. After we stumble out of the winery and the Italian man tries to sell us wine, we all wander the grounds for a little bit, running in and out of willow trees and playing with the geese and ducks that hang around in the sunshine.
We all shuffle back on the bus and I’m still not sobering up. What a surprise. Our bus tries to crawl up the hills, but it seems we have a lack of oil, so Tiernan, our guide, and the owner of Bus2Alps have us come outside and we begin to walk to San Gimignano. If I was sober, I may or may not be frustrated by this. But instead, I am PSYCHED, as everyone else seems to be. We run up and down the ninety degree roads and take pictures, our sobriety coming back in the sunshine. It is a beautiful day for a bus to break down, let me tell you that.
Finally we get to San Gimignano, which is another medieval city similar to Siena. We climb up some more hills to get to the wine museum/castle and we take dopey pictures as the Bus2Alps crew buys us more wine from the museum, which we sip overlooking the countryside.
Back down at the main square, we eat gelato, which is supposedly the best in the world (I think Florence’s is better). As we eat our gelato next to the fountain in the center, it begins to pour and pour and pour. I wonder if anyone even noticed.