Sunday, July 01, 2012

2012 Italy - Day 10 - Siena - Palio!

Sharon, Jack and I went to the 8 am Mass at the Siena Cathedral. I was surprised how few people there were, probably less than 50.

Afterwards we walked back towards the Campo. We got there in time to see the morning trial of the Palio. We were not in the middle of the piazza, but along the fence at the biggest entrance just to the left of the starting line. It gave us an interesting perspective as they set up the starting line and lined up the horses. I got a couple of nice pictures.

The plan for the morning was to do laundry. When I travel, I always carry enough clothes so that I don't have to do laundry. Nevertheless, Morgan and I ended up with most of the laundry duty. Waiting for almost 45 minutes to get in [just like a Disneyland ride], Sharon and Jack spent the time going up the city tower on the Piazza del Campo. They got some great pictures.

We took the clothes back to the room and then had a quick bite to eat near the Duomo. While Sharon and Morgan shopped, Jack and I went back and took multi-media tours of the Baptistery and Crypt. Although it took us longer with the multi-media guides, I recommend both of these sites for at least a quick walk through.

From the there, Jack and I took off for the Church of San Domenico. This huge brick church has the thumb and head of St. Catherine on display. The head is displayed in a nun's habit! Afterwards, Jack and I walked around the stadium looking for a team store before heading back to the hotel.

The plan for the evening was to go back to the Piazza del Campo and watch the evening Palio trials from inside the square. Part of the reason that they run the trials is to make sure that the horses are fit for the actual race. Tonight was a good example of the kind of problems that can happen. After parading the honor guard and the horses out, they had huge problems getting the horses lined up at the rope. There are no starting gates, they just line the horses up side by side at the starting rope. Tonight one or two of the horses would not stay put. After a false start, they worked to get everyone lined up again. This went on for at least 10 minutes and the crowd was getting restless. As Morgan said, "these horses are crazy." They finally sent the horses off although they were still in a little disarray. Interestingly, the riders were all riding bareback.

Based partly on a recommendation by Tim Murphy (it was also one of the top restaurants in the guide book), we left the kids at the hotel to have room service. Jack wanted to watch the Germany versus Italy European Cup Final. Sharon and I went to dinner at Antica Osteria Da Divo. It was one of the best meals of the trip. I had rissoto and rack of lamb, while Sharon had eggplant ravioli and rabbit. When we got back to the room, both of the kids were asleep.

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