I think it’s only normal to draw comparisons between new places to cities we’ve already visited; Florence reminded me of Paris, and Siena reminded me of Ghent, Belgium, which we visited in 2012. Meaning: it’s tiny! Adorably small, less touristy than Florence and Rome, certainly, but equally as deserving of a visit. We stayed a ten minute walk from the center of Siena, just outside the walls that fortified it in the 14th century, and the views from our apartment’s balconies (plural. There were three!) were magnificent. The brick buildings and the town’s Duomo caught the sunlight so beautifully, we found ourselves just staring at it in disbelief.
We arrived on Sunday and were scheduled to drive back to Rome for one last day early Wednesday morning, which honestly gave us too much time in Siena. We decided to spend a full day exploring and visiting the main sites, and then on Tuesday, take advantage of having a car and drive to other small towns around Tuscany that were harder to reach. This ended up being the perfect amount of time to really take in everything Siena had to offer. It’s a wonderfully quaint city, and fantastically easy to get lost in, as all the streets seem to run in concentric circles around the main square, the Piazza del Campo. We were blessed with really picture perfect weather the whole time, too.
I was more than ready to let go of what happened earlier in the morning in Vicchio, only it seemed like the universe didn’t feel the same way. We popped into a café in Siena and I ended up getting locked in the bathroom, a tiny, suffocating space at the end of a long, deserted hallway. I’m claustrophobic, so you can only imagine how delightful this experience was. The walls started to narrow-in on me, and despite my initial, normal-volume calls for help, I ended up having to scream bloody murder for someone to come get me out. (Jamal said I’m really, really loud, which naturally I took as a compliment). I recovered, spilling onto the street taking huge gulps of air, only to go to lunch and order lasagna, and have it arrive made entirely of veal. I learned this after eating a few bites and not recognizing the taste or texture of the meat. I don’t eat veal.
I refused to let that series of events ruin the entire day. Sure, I’d faceplanted in the forest and broken my camera. Sure, I’d ruined a pair of pants. Sure, I’d gotten locked in a bathroom. Sure, I’d accidentally eaten veal. But I would not be broken! I was going to have a good day if it killed me, because we were on vacation goddammit. So we went out for a glass of wine before dinner, to prove I couldn’t be broken by a few mildly traumatizing experiences to the point where I was incapable of enjoying the soothing, universal cure-all that is happy hour. Besides, what else could possibly go wrong? Hadn’t I suffered enough that day?
Because as we took a seat at a sweet outdoor table, on a cobblestone street facing a tiny square, with the golden, early-evening sun streaming in over the old stone buildings, and ordered our wine, I got pooped on by a bird. Splaaaaat. All over my hair, my scarf, and my bag. Honestly, all I could do was laugh (and then cry from the depths of my destroyed soul in the phonebooth-sized bathroom as I wiped bird shit off myself). When I came back to the table I power-chugged my entire glass of wine, chuckling at the sheer ridiculousness of my day. Jamal took me a fancy dinner where I ordered a bottle of Prosecco for myself, along with a large pizza and a plate of spaghetti carbonara, because, really, there’s nothing carbs and bubbly can’t fix.