Siena is a beautiful town with a history of inhabitants dating back to 800-900 BC. It’s built with curving, winding streets up and down the hill it resides. The old brick walls that once kept the city from danger, now serve a primary purpose of keepings the city cool from hot summers. I think these are the aspects I was attracted to, I wanted to wander the streets freely and explore behind the smaller, less tourist-traversed vias, but this happened rather naturally as it is easy to get lost in a place with less flat ground (my first weeks in Firenze I could just look up to find a tower or the Duomo and know exactly where to go), Vasalisa and I got a little nervous as we tried to hastily meet back for class, and find our way back from one the churches we were just in—how the streets are like a maze! We decided to follow these tourists in front of us, hoping they were going in the same direction as we and toward the Piazza del Campo.
The Piazza is magnificent, it’s a beautiful square divided into nine sections, representing The Nine banking leaders of Siena—the Noveschi, who built the town to grandeur in the 13th and 14th centuries. I was intrigued by the famous Palio di Siena, the horse race that takes place twice a year in the Piazza. The square is filled with sand or dirt to protect the horses, and seating is arranged in the middle to make a track between the buildings and the middle. It would definitely be exciting to see this, until I learned tickets to the event can cost well over the hundreds. It’s definitely interesting how the cities and towns of Italy have such strong-lasting traditions that really bring together the entire community—this is a topic I often hear in my hometown—how can we bring the community together? Community is so deeply rooted in Italian culture along with tradition.