Yesterday we arrived in Siena! Siena is a really cool town; it is pretty small, but divided into 17 “contrade.” Each contrada has it’s own set of rules separate from Italian law, they have their own colors, they each have a rival contrada, and their own coat of arms, and they each have an animal symbolizing their contrada. I’ll get to how this plays into my day later!
When we arrived in Siena we were not able to check into our hotel yet, so we went to the “Piazza Del Campo” which is basically a huge town square, and we sat for a bit before going to the Duomo Museum. One part of the museum we got to walk up a huge tower that was a spiral staircase all the way up (it was very disorienting). Once we got to the top it was an AMAZING view of all of Siena and Tuscany. It was beautiful and I had a Piazzele Michelango-esque experience. Something to note about Siena: IT IS HILLY. And I’m not talking about dinky hills, these hills are ginormous, and once you think you’re done with one hill, you could possibly turn the corner and have to go up another.
Okay, back to the 17 contrade. Inside of each contrada (contrada- singular, contrade- plural) there is a fountain. When I think of fountain I think of a High Point University big, extraordinary fountain, but I later came to find out that most are actually pretty small. One of our assignments while we are here in Siena is to find at least 10 of the 17 fountains. BUT Dr. Piperato said we would receive extra credit if we found all 17, a nearly impossible task for newcomers to this confusing city…or so she thought.
While sitting in the Piazza Del Campo we formed a team of dedicated, determined, and enthusiastic individuals ready to commit to finding all 17 fountains. So, after checking into our hotel around noon, the 4 of us broke from the group and went on a mission.
We didn’t really have much of a game plan. These fountains could have been anywhere and we had only been in the city for a few hours. (For all you Harry Potter fans, I felt like I was on a hunt for horcruxes). Dr. Piperato had hinted us towards where 1 could be and so we went to that one first. The first one we found was huge! It was so big and obvious that we actually wandered around for at least 30 minutes because we thought it was too easy. But, after asking someone we discovered we had indeed found the Oca fountain. I will not go through my whole day because if I did that you would be exhausted just reading it. Basically FOR 6 HOURS we walked around Siena hunting the fountains; we bought a map, asked a lot of people for help, got frustrated, got VERY lost, climbed hills, backtracked A LOT, passed fountains we didn’t think were fountains, we even asked the Police for help, but by the end of 6 hours WE FOUND ALL THE FOUNTAINS!! It was such an exhausting day, but all of the hills and hard work was worth it when we got to feel the feeling of sweet victory.
My body hurt so bad by the end of the day, but we had a group dinner so I thankfully had a delicious meal to look forward to. I had just enough time to sit for a total of 5 minutes and then shower and get ready and then it was time to meet for dinner. PTL for dinner last night because it was SO GOOD. We had an amazing appetizer plate filled with bruschetta, prosciutto, cheeses, and salami, and then two pastas, and then a pork and a beef, AND a dessert. I was so full by the end of the meal, but I think we walked at least 10 miles all together in Siena so I definitely worked everything off throughout the day.
Finding all 17 fountains is up there on my list of cool accomplishments (I don’t actually have a list, it was just really cool). I felt like I was on a game show like the Amazing Race, or in a movie on a top secret mission. It was exhilarating!
Needless to say, I am exhausted today. Today we went to San Gimingano, a cute little town about an hour away, but I’ll save those deets for another post later today.
Ciao! And may the odds be ever in your favor…
Info on the Contrades:
1. Aquila- goose
2. Bruco- caterpillar
3. Chiocciola- snail
4. Civetta- owl
5. Drago- dragon
6. Giraffa- giraffe
7. Istrice- porcupine
8. Leocorno- unicorn
9. Lupa- wolf
10. Nicchio- shell
11. Oca- goose
12. Onda- wave/dolphin
13. Pantera- panther
14. Selva- rhino
15. Tertuca- turtle
16. Torre- elephant
17. Valdimonte- ram