Been a busy week here in Rome. School is definitely picking up and therefore severely cutting into my vacation! It’s been a bit of a stressful one, but it’s Friday, so I won’t complain!
I had an amazing weekend last weekend. I told you about how we couldn’t get to Florence, but it turned out to be a great thing because Heather, Becca and I got to go to Tuscany instead! Siena, more specifically. Getting out of the city and out to the countryside was wonderful. The people of Siena all spoke English really well and were very nice. Getting to Siena was a bit of an adventure… Our train left Termini at 6:56am, and it takes about 20 minutes to walk from our apartment to the train station, so we left our apartment around 6:20am and booked it to the station. Once we got there we asked an employee to direct us to our platform, which was aaaaaalll the way at the end, honestly about a 5 minute walk. By this time it’s 6:50 and we don’t even see anything that resembles the Destination we’re supposed to be looking for, and there’s no train on this platform. So we ask some older Italian men where we’re supposed to be, we show them the ticket and they say, “Ah si si.. due.” Due? 2? Platform 2? Honestly? We’re on platform 25! So we now have 5 minutes to run back to where we started which took 5 minutes to get to in the first place, plus another 5 minutes to get to where we need to be. So we’re running through Termini station like idiots, I’m not a runner, it’s not even 7am yet, I’m wearing a plastic rain coat, sweating like a wildebeest, just a hot mess. Finally we find this elusive train, but we haven’t validated our ticket yet so the conductor won’t let us on. So we run around a few more minutes, find the little validater box, and board the train. WHEW, what an ordeal! So we’re finally on our merry way. But the fun isn’t over yet. We have to switch trains at a station called Chiusi, but we don’t know where it is or how long it’ll take to get there, or if there will be an announcement as to when we need to get off the train. We ask the man sitting next to us and he says, “don’t switch trains, this goes all the way to Siena.” He was wrong. We found Chiusi, got off the train, and thankfully found our way to our second train. Our ticket says to get off at a station called Sienalunga, so we’re riding along and we’re at a stop, just waiting to continue, and as the train starts moving away from that particular station I look out the window only to realize that we’re pulling away from Sienalunga! Umm…. not good. So we stop a man who works on the train and is walking the aisles, a little bit freaked out that we’ve just missed our stop! But he assures us that we haven’t, and every stop after that he says to us, “Not yet!” Thank heavens! The train ride was about 4 hours of nonstop anxiety, but we made it to Siena without ever being on the wrong train!
We got to Siena around 11am, walked the 20 minutes from the train station into the city center to find our hostel and check in and drop off our stuff. The hostel was so cute! We had a private room with 3 beds, there was also a kitchen and a dining room that we could use. The owner was a man named Michael who was very nice and helpful in telling us where to go and what to see, he spoke great English and was so hospitable. My first hostel experience was a great one! So we dropped off our bags and headed back into the main square in the city, Piazza del Campo. We grabbed a bite to eat, then headed into the public castle (Palazzo Pubblico), where we climbed 330 steps (ouch) up to the top of a tower (Torre del Mangia) that gave us the most gorgeous panoramic views of Siena and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. So great! After we made our descent, we headed over to the Duomo di Siena, a cathedral originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263, that houses works by the likes of Donatello, Bernini, Michelangelo. It’s completely marble, mostly a black/dark green and white striped, the floors are covered in images depicting scenes from the Old Testament, there’s amazing sculptures and frescoes and architecture throughout… Definitely a site worth seeing.
After exploring the Duomo, we decided it was time to grab a snack and do some shopping! Siena has tons of great shops and that’s how we spent the remainder of our time there. We probably could have made Siena just a day trip, but it was nice to get away for the weekend and explore somewhere other than Rome. A nice change of pace. Since Tuscany is known for it’s amazing wines, Chianti wine in particular, we decided to sample some with our pizza dinner and head to bed early Saturday night so we could get up early on Sunday, check out of the hostel, and continue our exploring until our train left at 6pm. It was definitely a great weekend. If you’ve ever thought of visiting Tuscany, DO IT! I’d love to go back!
This Saturday, the 26th, we’re heading to Assisi for a day trip with a group from school. I hear it’s gorgeous and a must-see, so I’m pretty excited to get there and take some pictures. Next week should be pretty great, too. Today is my last day of Italian class, and we’re heading on a field trip Wednesday afternoon for a few hours to a town called Ostia that’s on the coast, then Thursday we’re heading to Naples, Pompeii, Sorrento, and Capri! I’m SO excited to see the blue grotto in Capri. I’ve looked at some pictures on the Internet and it looks like absolute paradise! I’ve always wanted to see Pompeii, too, so I know that it will be awesome. Should be a great four days. It’s so weird to realize that I’m currently living the best days of my life to date! In the here and now! So much to look forward to. I kinda love it. 🙂
Anyhoo. I’ll post some pictures of Siena for you to enjoy.
Talk to you soon!