On Wednesday I got lost in Siena. Sort of on purpose.
We arrived in Siena early Wednesday morning for the market. I had to postpone my usual five hour nap after work, but we stopped for cappuccini on the way so I was all hyped up on sugar and caffeine and totally good to go. At the market, which is huge, Nana and Papa Tom showed me their usual meeting place and we all planned to be there in two hours. More than enough time to shop. And shop I did…for about 20 minutes. Then I found my way to the edge of the city (the market is a little on the outskirts). I was ready to explore.
As I walked I soon remembered how hilly this city actually is. It’s all up and down, which my legs did not appreciate very much. I continued to find myself on a different street level than before, with really cool views of other parts of the city.
There were a ton of pasteccerie, (bakeries), that had not only bread but other sorts of sweets. I definitely plan to return and visit some of these.
I eventually found myself at a church (which is not that monumental since churches here are like Starbucks back home, on every corner.) But this one was great because 1. It had a fantastic view of the city, and 2. I found a lucky euro penny on the steps. My first!
I kept on walking in the direction that I thought was back toward the market (From where I took this picture here I basically had to go across the entire city). Unfortunately, streets here are not quite straight (or level) so I ended up heading in a completely different direction, not that I knew which way that was. Anyway, I eventually found myself on this long street with no intersections whatsover, and I was just so confused. Finally, I asked someone for directions and the guy told me that the market was on the other side of the city. Ugh! (Side note: I just had deja vu writing this…maybe this has happened before. Then again, I purposely wander without direction like this whenever I’m in a new place).
And so I ventured onward. I noticed that as I went through the streets, there different street lamps in different areas. Some were blue and silver fish, another looked like a hat. I remember my Nana telling me that in Siena, there are 17 contrade, or neighborhoods, that play a very important role in social life in the city. Apparently people stick to their contrade. These are also the groups that compete in the Palio (the horse race that happened just a few days ago). The street lamps must signify which contrade you are in. Of course, this didn’t really help me at all.
In the end, I found my way back to the market (about ten minutes before our meeting time! Phew!) I was exhausted by then, but glad I had the opportunity to just wander around the city. It’s my favorite way to learn a new city. And I definitely want to come back.