On Tuesday, August 23, I moved myself and my belongs south from Florence to Siena on a bus. I knew the Florence bus station was tucked away somewhere near the train station, but I couldn't find it. "Dove autostatione?," I asked several people. I got answers I couldn't understand. Finally, a man took me a block to the bus station. It was a nice bus ride through Tuscany. The rolling hills, farmlands and villages flowed by me. On several hills in the distance, there were ancient towns, with walls and towers. After I disembarked at the bus station in Siena, I couldn't find my hotel. I walked the wrong way showing people the written address to ask directions without much success. Finally, I found the hotel down a small, ancient side street. It was the Alma Domus Hotel which was a modern hotel in an old brick convent building still owned by the convent. From my room there was a wonderful view of the Siena Duomo on the hill above me.
Siena is full of brick buildings and has a particularly medieval feel. The city thrived before 1348 when it was struck particularly hard by the black plague. Two centuries later, Florence conquered Siena and permitted no further development. So in many ways, much of Siena is a city preserved in time. The great cathedral in Siena is a fully Gothic cathedral and is particularly spectacular. The front facade is fully elaborated with sculptures, and the rest of the building is striped with dark marble, but the cathedral was never fully finished. There is a tall unfinished facade for the unfinished nave. I climbed the facade and was given a sweeping view of the city from the top. The Siena Duomo may be my favorite in terms of its interior, which was dark with black and white stripes. There is a beautiful bronze statue of John the Baptist by Donatello and a number of fine paintings. The Piccolomini Library is particularly striking with a brightly painted ceiling and a series of colorful and exquisite frescos by Pinturicchio.
I visited the flowing Piazza del Campo, the great civic space of Siena which is anchored by the Palazzo Pubblico with its tall clock tower. This is a fine space, but people were concentrated in the shady portion. There was a woman playing the tsymbaly in the Piazza and at another time near the Duomo. The tsymbaly is a musical instrument similar to a hammer dulcimer. I enjoyed the music and bought a CD from her. I finished the day eat dinner outside, near my hotel with a beautiful view of the Duomo on the hill, glowing in the evening sunlight. I had a fine dinner, including Tuscan steak.