Our next excursion was to Siena, a very large city in comparison to my favorite town, Radda in Chianti.
Siena is well known for the Palio, a spectacular horse race that takes place in the center of the city twice a year. But we were looking for a different Siena and found some unexpected things. We were dropped off at San Domenico Basilica where, much to our surprise, we came upon the head and finger of St. Catherine of Siena ( 1347-1380 ). No photos permitted in the church but, if you’d like, you can see her head here.
Next, we walked on Via Cittá and heard classical music. Following the sound, we entered the courtyard of the Palazzo Chigi Saracini (This link shows a 180° view-don’t forget to look up.) which houses the Chigiana Musical Academy. We sat on a bench and lost track of time while we listened to music, worked in our journal, photographed and watched people.
The most wonderful site was the crypt (cripta in Italian) which was re-discovered in 1999 under the Duomo (Cathedral). I was disappointed because photography was not permitted in this space which was full of incredible frescoes and decorative patterns. But I had an alternative to photography-my journal. I made drawings of the areas I wanted to remember. A whole new world has opened to me. Now along with my camera, I travel with a notebook and pencil.