The day began with a brisk walk to Termine Santa Maria Novella to catch our 9:15 train to Siena.

After a 90-minute trip, we debarked and began the ascent up the hill to this medieval city (Siena has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site). Not an artistic lightweight itself, Sienese artists such as Duccio, Simone Martini, and the Lorenzetti brothers rivaled their Florentine peers. Siena is also famous for its Palio, a medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August.

Upon entering the city’s campo (considered one of Europe’s finest), we made our way to the Torre del Mangia. This is the second tallest secular tower in Italy and we climbed to the top. The viewpoint revealed Siena’s unique and labyrinthine street configuration (as Curt describes it, it is as if someone through a plate of spaghetti on the floor.)

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After the descent, we made our way to Ivano’s, a local pizzaria where we consumed cold drinks and a slice.

Next, the Duomo of Siena, home of the famous “pavimento” (floors.) These floors, made up of inlaid marble, revealed scenes from the Bible (i.e. the “Massacre of the Innocents”) as well as representations of the Sybils, the Virtues, and zodiacal decorations. Michelangelo’s sculptures for the Piccolomini Altar are also within.

We met back on the campo for a collaborative group drawing project, then had a bit of free time before heading back on the train.

Tomorrow is Saturday and several groups are planning activities, including horseback riding and a trip to Pisa.

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