Siena and San Gimignano

This was the first weekend of the semester that I didn’t have any trips planned, so of course I signed up to go on a field trip. The field trips are led by the art history teacher, who is like a walking encyclopedia. On her field trips, it’s just constant information while constantly walking, but you get to see a lot of cool places that you’ve probably never heard of. Also it’s free! I met the group at the bus stop at 7:30 Saturday morning, and we rode a charter bus about an hour to Siena. First, we went to a church that held the head of St. Catherine, as well as her thumbs. The skin on her face has “miraculously” been preserved, so she just looks like a decapitated, embalmed head. Next, we went to the Museo Civico and saw a lot of fresco paintings.

   
  

In this room there are some very important frescos. On this wall is the allegory of good government, with the large, godlike figure as Sienna, and other virtues, like Peace, who is reclining.

  

On this wall is the Effects of Good Government. People dancing, living the good life.

  

On this wall is the Allegory and Effects of Bad Government. The large, Satan-like figure is Tyranny, and there is chaos in the streets. It’s a pretty bad life. Also, this fresco is in pretty bad need of restoration, so people like to say that’s because good government prevails over bad government.

  
 
We then took a coffee break, so I got a Nutella croissant and a hot chocolate, which was super thick and creamy. The cafe was in the very famous piazza where each of the ten districts compete in a horse race every year. If you google Siena, you’ll see a picture of this building:

  
We then went to see the cathedral, which was beautiful.

 

This is in the baptistry, and has relief sculptures on all sides. Some of them are by local artists, and some by famous ones, such as Donatello.

  

This relief is by Donatello, depicting the banquet of Herod. It is an excellent example of early work in perspective, with a clear foreground, middle, and background.

 

 We then went into the museum for the cathedral.

I find this extremely odd. It depicts St Catherine drinking the blood of Christ in a rather sensual way. It seems the Catholics took the beautiful idea of Christ redeeming and uniting with the Church way too far. St Catherine believed she was Christ’s mystical bride. This whole thing is just weird.

  

These statues were originally on the outside of the Duomo, but were put here and replaced by replicas to preserve them. They are slightly larger than life-size. The stained glass window is also the original which has been replaced by a replica.

  

Madonna and Child

  

I didn’t catch who this was, but i took a pocture of it because it is a skull in a decorative box.

  

The cathedral

  

It was beautiful inside the duomo!

  

The floor was intricately decorated. This shows Siena surrounded by all the neighboring cities, such as Pisa, Lucca, and Florence. Siena is represented by a she-wolf, as Florence is by a lion.

  

This room held a lot of old books and manuscripts, and no one is allowed to talk.

 
We then took a break to eat lunch, so me and a friend walked around until we found a pizza place where we could sit, because we were exhausted already. They actually had pizza that was not thin crust, which is rare in Italy! Most pizza here is thin and kind of chewy. This, however, was so good, as was the caffe latte I ordered. We met the rest of the group at a popular bar that had rows and rows of desserts. I got some kind of cake thing, which of course was delicious.

We then rode the bus to San Gimignano, a smaller city not far away. I loved the simple, country architecture here. 

   
 We went in the cathedral, and I bought a postcard in the sanctuary. It was a little awkward because my coins were loud when I dropped them in the box, but another girl bought one too, so it was okay. 

  
We went to another museum with some more Renaissance artwork. We then waited in the cold while our professor bought some white wine, wild boar salami (which is big in San Gimignano), and some pecorino cheese. We went up this tower to sample it all, and it had some amazing views of the city. 

 

I took this while in line for the museum.

  

These were taken while atop the tower.

    
    

I was particularly pleased to see the leaves beginning to turn, because there aren’t any trees in the center of Florence, where I live. After that, we left and rode a little over an hour back to Florence. I was really glad I went, really glad I wore a raincoat, and really kicking myself for wearing my walking sandals, because it was rather cold and rainy and my feet were wet all day. I would definitely like to go back to San Gimignano and take time to eat there. It was a lovely place.

 

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