We boarded the 9:10 train to Siena at Santa Maria Novella, a leisurely 90-minute trip that afforded some additional naptime for many. Upon arriving, we debarked and followed the signs to the relatively new “mall” across the street and, for the first time, took the escalator from the train station up the hill to the city gate. This saved about 10 minutes and an uphill climb in the direct sun.

Upon entering the city, it was clear that it was completely filled with tourists such as ourselves. Parts of the streets were nearly impassable between pedestrians and the poor Sienese in vehicles, just trying to get their business done. We made our way to the campo, one of the most beautiful in Italy and an important historical site of civic government (as well as the Palio, the semi-annual horse race that takes place there).

Our first mission: to climb the Torre di Mangia. Despite some confusion with the tickets (which allowed us time to grab a slice of pizza marguerita and a drink), we mad our way up the 300+ steps to the top of this second tallest tower in Italy (it also holds the title of the highest secular tower). Many photo ops of the surrounding city and country hillside.

Once back on the ground, we went to the Duomo (Santa Maria Assunta) and obtained combination tickets for the cathedral, the museo del duomo (including another panoramic view from the terrace of the unfinished nave), the crypt and baptistery.  The students had their individual return train tickets, so could find their way back to Florence at their own leisure. Some waited to meet us back at the campo and to travel back together. Once in Florence, there was a flurry of ticket-buying for those planning a weekend t Several rip to Roma.

Tomorrow morning, la Galleria Uffizi.