Tuscany Photos: Siena

Siena is a little rough around the edges. “Pretty” doesn’t describe it accurately. With dozens of dark alleys, and contrade (gang) flags flying everywhere, it’s not hard to imagine a West Side Story scene in progress around any corner at any given time.

Then you have the Piazza del Campo, a vast plaza that reminds me of something out of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.  It is used for the Palio, a no-holds-barred horse race that began back in 1590 when the Duke of Tuscany banned bullfighting and the locals had to find another way to maim themselves.

So, it’s possible that I have an overactive imagination, but I find Siena to be a little sinister. And the ticket system for the local sights is completely insane. It took three trips to the Duomo ticket booth to straighten out that yes, we wanted to see the church and the crypt underneath it and the church museum right next to it. (That’s the short version.)

But, there is a ton of interesting stuff to see, and our lunchtime pizza in a side street cafe was beyond excellent. I probably shouldn’t have eaten it right before climbing up two very tiny, very tall spiral staircases to get that view from the top of the annex, though.

Contrade flags flying high above a steep street.
Contrade flags flying high above a steep street.
Inside the Palazzo Civico: fresco showing the seven sins (I think) plus Beelzebub himself.
Inside the Palazzo Civico: fresco showing the seven sins (I think) plus Beelzebub himself.
Happy peasants in the Palazzo.
Happy peasants in the Palazzo.
The Duomo in Siena.
The Duomo in Siena.
Inside the Duomo.
Inside the Duomo.
View of the altar.
View of the altar.
Detail from the pulpit.
Detail from the pulpit.
The Duomo is known for its amazing floor "cartoons" or mosaics.  Here's an interesting detail of one--you'd have to hang from the ceiling to get a really good picture of the whole thing.
The Duomo is known for its amazing floor “cartoons” or mosaics. Here’s an interesting detail of one–you’d have to hang from the ceiling to get a really good picture of the whole thing.
Inside the Duomo.
Inside the Duomo.
From on top of the Duomo annex.
From on top of the Duomo annex.
View from the top of the Duomo annex.
View from the top of the Duomo annex.
Contrade graffiti in La Selva turf.
Contrade graffiti in La Selva turf.
In the Baptistery.
In the Baptistery.
Fresco in the Baptistery.
Fresco in the Baptistery.
In the Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala--15th century fresco depicting medical care of the time.
In the Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala–15th century fresco depicting medical care of the time.
Detail from the same fresco.  Love the bushy cat tail.
Detail from the same fresco. Love the bushy cat tail.
15th century construction techniques.
15th century construction techniques.
Wild boar everything for sale.
Wild boar everything for sale.
Yet more Tuscan scenery (you can never have too much.)
Yet more Tuscan scenery (you can never have too much.)
Leaving town--I like how this one turned out.
Leaving town–I like how this one turned out.
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