This morning we are off for Florence with a stop and tour of Siena on the way. The bus trip through the Tuscan countryside was lovely. Fields of sunflowers and wonderful old hill towns with their ancient walls on top of many of the hills.
Siena is a wonderful medieval town, and as Rick Steves says, "seems to be every Italy connoisseur's favorite pet town." The main square, Il Campo has as its center the city hall and its 330 ft tower. The piazza is ringed by restaurants, and when we were there they had it all set up for the Palio horse races with dirt hauled in to make a racetrack around the plaza. It is extremely popular with the locals and pits each of the 17 neighborhoods against each other with each sponsoring a horse and jockey. Apparently you have to buy tickets to sit in the bleachers around the track a year in advance. The race only lasts several minutes and is held on July 2nd and again on August 16th.
The high point for us was the Duomo, an Italian Gothic cathedral dating back to 1215. The facade is very ornate and is faced with several colors of marble with multiple sculptures decorating every nook and cranny. The inside is filled with striped columns, marble inlays, Michelangelo statues, and Bernini sculptures. The library features Pinturicchio frescoes and large books of Gregorian chant in cases.