Monday, September 15
Our first day trip. We could have taken a 120 euro, 12-hour tour to Siena and surrounding Tuscany, but we didn’t. Instead, we took the 6-euro Rapido bus to Siena. Just past the Firenze train station, I saw the Deanna pasticceria that I took Deanne’s picture in front of 24 years ago. That made me happy. I was really here the first time around, and I my memory still kinda works.
Oh, but first, “Charlie’s Angels.” It was on TV this morning as we were eating breakfast. Unfortunately, it was the Cheryl Ladd version and not the Farrah Fawcett one, but hey, you take what you can get. Sometimes, dubbed old American programs in another country become a bit more charming when abroad. Maybe it was because the Angels had gone western for this episode and had to fake ride horses, but let’s just say this particular episode had not aged well. Also, two pinkie rings on Kate Jackson. Uh huh.
Anyway, our rapido bus ride to Siena didn’t start out so rapido. Less than five minutes from the bus station, in a narrow turn, our bus got wedged between an illegally parked Maserati and a row of motorcycles. Things like this are exciting when you’re in another country, but so mundane at home. Lots of yelling, some kind of traffic person with a walkie-talkie, horns honking, people in front of the bus trying to guide the bus through, and still we went nowhere. It must have been 10 minutes before the owner of the Maserati slunk to his car and moved it. And away we went.
Here we were in this bus, crossing the Arno, the Ponte Vecchio to the left, churches in front of us, and up a ways, the great wall of Florence. Wow. No amount of wow could keep me from falling asleep however, and asleep I fell.
From the what I saw when my eyes were open, we passed little towns, lots of farm land, castles, old walls and villages, you know, the kinds of things one doesn’t see from the window when on Bart and going to work. We turned off the freeway into Siena and drove up and down and around the outskirts of town, weaving closer to the center.
We arrived at the bus stop, and followed the signs to the Duomo and Piazzo del Campo. We kept coming upon little piazzos and Shelly would say, “Is this it?” referring to the big square? And I would say, “No, you’ll know when you get there.”
And we got there. We sat on the square across from the church and ate the lunch we got at a market near the top of the town. Mortadella, cheeses, bread, artichokes, olives – all local foods – a perfect picnic lunch. I shared some bread with the pigeons, and we packed up when it started to rain. We headed back up top, trying to stay close to the buildings to keep from getting soaked by the rain.
The Duomo had a crypt and because it was raining and we hadn’t seen a crypt in Rome, this crypt seemed as good as any. But it was a disappointment. It was as if this crypt had been deep cleaned. It was too clean and there were no bones. What’s a crypt without bones and a skull or two? Plus, it was devoid of that crypt smell. Basically, we visited a clean crypt.
The rain kicked us out of town (shorts don’t work well for a rainy day) and we took a non-rapido back to Florence. The bus, mostly used by locals, took us winding through little towns, and was driven by a tail-gating, cell-phone using driver. Made things a little more exciting.
A perfect evening for laundry. It’s 7:30 and we’re at a laveneria on Via Nationale. And it’s all ’80s music. David Bowie, Quarterflash, it’s cracking me up.
We finished the night at a restaurant a few blocks from our hotel. Salad and bean soup for Shelly, insalata mista and a funghi pizza for me. Our dinner was okay. Have to get over that a nearly $50 dinner here doesn’t necessarily make it a great meal.
Watched the BBC talk up the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy and went to bed.