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The look up through the courtyard of Siena’s town hall museum to the country’s large clock tower. Yes. we climbed it!

Gorgeous bright blue sun-filled skies overhead greeted us as we arrived to Siena this weekend. Although our adopted hometown of Arezzo is less than 50 miles away from its Tuscan neighbor to the southwest, we had never made the trip. Probably because you have to get there by bus, rather than train.

We arrived in the morning and immediately set out to find the Piazza Campo.

Bar il Palio -named after the famous madcap horse race that zooms around this piazza twice a year.

We had coffee/Fanta at Bar il Palio -named after the famous madcap horse race that zooms around this piazza twice a year.

I had a macchiato (and Lulu had a Fanta) at one of the many cafe’s that surround its perimeter.  The impressive slanted piazza spreads out like an amphitheater toward it iconic clock-tower and town hall.

Then we bravely decided to climb the 14th Torre del Mangia clock tower – named after its first watchman who apparently spent all his money eating (“mangia” means “eat” fyi).

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Narrow, marble and slippery, the stairs seemed to go on forever.  But, Lulu and I both made it safely to the top where the magnificent views awaited.

Here's Bar il Palio as seen from the top of the bell tower!

Here’s Bar il Palio as seen from the top of the bell tower!

The clear skies allowed us to see for great distances,

Lulu looking out across Siena

Lulu looking out across Siena

..and here's her view

..and here’s her view

but needless to say since it is still January, it was quite windy and cold at the top.

We carefully descended the stairs, toured the museum next door and then found a cozy restaurant nearby.  After lunch, we went over to the duomo and stared at the incredibly animated carvings on the outside.

The photo doesn't do Siena's duomo (cathedral) justice. The animated carvings are non-stop!

The photo doesn’t do Siena’s duomo (cathedral) justice. The animated carvings are non-stop!

We almost didn’t go in. But I am soooo glad that we did.  Inside – with the striped columns and staring down at you busts of ancient popes – it’s Tim Burton meets Disney’s Haunted Mansion.

Honestly, I have been in hundreds of ancient churches. This one is like Tim Burton meets Disney's Haunted Mansion. Super cool.

Honestly, I have been in hundreds of ancient churches. This one is like Tim Burton meets Disney’s Haunted Mansion. Super cool.

I kept craning my head upward and waited for one of those sneering pope busts to burst into a song (or a sentencing) for me.

Yes, the tight shot is blurry. I couldn't hold the camera steady enough. But trust me, these leering popes are eerie and awesome at the same time!

Yes, the tight shot is blurry. I couldn’t hold the camera steady enough. But trust me, these leering popes are eerie and awesome at the same time!

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But none of the popes started singing.

We popped back on the bus without a moment to spare at quarter to four.  Having packed in everything we could during our day, I know one thing for certain:  One day in Siena is not enough.

Fortunately we live close enough that we can visit again.  And we must!

Grazie, Siena –

A la prossima volta,

Gina

Have you been to Siena? When? What special thing did you find? 

Copyright 2014 Gina London. All Rights Reserved.

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