Yesterday we had a great day! We went on a day trip to Siena, San Gimignano and Pisa. It was another very long day but it was a good tour.
Standing in the main square of Siena, our guide told us about the Palio. The Palio is the most important event in Siena, taking place on July 2 and August 16 every year. In the Palio, the various Sienese "contrade", or areas in which the city is divided, challenge each other in a passionate horse race in the heart of the city in the Piazza del Campo.
Next we walked up the hill to the Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena). It is a medieval church in Siena and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral itself was originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius. The church was amazing and we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
After Siena, we had lunch at a winery in the Tuscan countryside with a view of San Gimignano. After lunch, we had free time to explore San Gimignano. San Gimignano is a small walled village about halfway between Florence and Siena. It is famous for its fascinating medieval architecture and towers that rise above of all the other buildings offering an impressive view of the city from the surrounding valley. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, San Gimignano offers visitors the chance to step back in time while enjoying its local products including saffron and its white wine, the Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Our last stop of the day was Pisa where we all saw the famous leaning tower.
Today we spent the day in Florence. We visited the tower of Palazzo Vecchio. It is one of the symbols of Florence and it is called the tower of Arnolfo in honor of Arnolfo di Cambio, considered the architect and designer of the ancient palace. With its 95 meter height, the tower offers spectacular views of Florence and its surroundings, not just at the very top but also along the way up thanks to several openings as well as the picturesque round of battlements that crown the palace. There were about 400 steps. Afterwards, we toured the museum.
This afternoon we went to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum and spent some time looking at replicas of his machine inventions. It was very interesting.
Sharon and John with Sharon and Charlie