We got back last night and then went to Siena today, one of my favorite places in Italy. It has such a completely different feel from Florence, which has been its long time rival. Sienese art is very different than Florentine. It's quite decorative, extremely busy and uses every space available to tell its proud Sienese history. It fascinates me because while we are so used to seeing Florentine art because it was the seat of the Renaissance, Sienese art is not as well known, and so it seems so very foreign. Siena is also a gorgeous little city without any cars on its roads (you have to be a permanent resident to drive through its streets) and the major piazza in the city slopes downwards, resembling some sort of amphitheatre. Since today was a national holiday we saw an incredible amount of families in the piazza. I have never seen so many Italian children in my life. I didn't realize so many existed, and they were all crazy and happy. It felt like being part of something sitting out there in the middle of the piazza. A fairly large group of drunk Italian men were singing and dancing to accordion music and after embarrassing several young tourists by dancing with them they proceeded to take their little party through the streets. Oh, also may I note that a very nice smelling and handsome man got on our bus with a darling little puppy on the way there. You could tell how much he adored her. He held her and kissed her when she whimpered and talked to her the whole way there. So sweet. With that and the dancing men and all the little children today I felt a good deal of love for Italians. They are great people, and I'm going to miss them.
While we were in Siena we also saw the Duomo, which has some incredible decorative architecture. Every stone in the building is alternated black and white, so it's all striped, and the floors are amazing mosaics telling the story of the city. The actual church was supposed to be only a trancept of a much larger church, planned in the 14th century. They started building this massive church to rival the Duomo in Florence, and they finished the walls of the nave before the plague hit the city and killed half of its population. They therefore had to stop construction, but those walls are still there. As we were going through the museum there was a little door open in one of the rooms. You had to descend some stairs and then there was a narrow passage. There were no signs or anything indicating what was there, so we followed it up a tiny spiral staircase and found ourselves on top of the unfinished nave, with an amazing view of the city and the Tuscan countryside. I couldnt believe how gorgeous it all was. I felt very fortunate to be there at that moment. I love Siena.
Tomorrow is my last day here. I need to go see the convent of San Marco. That is the major thing. I also need to buy my train ticket to the airport and pick up a few more things. So far my trip has been pretty much perfect. Everything has gone to plan and I've had a really lovely time. I am certainly not looking forward to the plane trip home, but it will be nice to get back to my life. I have a lot that I need to do when I get back. And I need to change some things in my life that have not been making me very happy. I'm going to quit my job and focus my time and energies on my thesis and on preparing myself to apply to Phd programs and also to plan out the class I am teaching this summer. Ugh. I need to not think about it and just enjoy the hell out of Florence tomorrow. I really love it here.