I should mention that I was not the only one having a tough go of it on this vacation, and that at least my #struggles were contained to a 24 hour period. Jamal, on the other hand, was struck by seasonal allergies that plagued him mercilessly from the moment we landed in Rome until we touched down back in Philly. The poor guy! He was a sneezy, itchy, watery mess in varying degrees from “General Annoyance” to “Cannot See/Stuffing Tissues Up My Nose.” It was pretty brutal, and we ended up pumping him full of Italian Sudafed and generic Claritin with a Benadryl kicker at night when it got too unbearable for him (never all three in the same day; he was miserable, not suicidal). A lot of our trip involved ducking into the nearest pharmacy for more tissues, with all of our sightseeing punctuated with lots of “bless you”s: “So the statue of David used to be outside –bless you– but they moved it in and replaced it with a –bless you– replica. In the 90s, someone attacked –bless you– his foot with a hammer, you can see on his toes –bless you– some of the damage.”
I really shouldn’t complain about a little bird poop, when you come right down to it. He was a champ, though, as always, and didn’t whine at all. (The same cannot be said for someone else on the trip, ahem.)
We had a great time in Siena. I know that sounds trite, but Siena was truly a lovely little town and it was impossible not to enjoy ourselves. We didn’t have any bad weather to compete with, either. And all roads seemed to lead to the Piazza del Campo, the city’s main square (though it was really more of a shell shape) that was first paved in 1349 (!!) and is built on a slant, so that it dips gradually towards the Torre del Mangia. Locals love to hang out and lay on the ground and sunbathe, read, sleep and laze around, or chat with friends over a bottle of wine. The entire Piazza is lined with restaurants and cafés (overpriced and a little touristy, thanks to their location) and the entire square was always packed from sun-up to sundown. What a life.
We took it easy on this portion of the trip, a combination of having done a lot in Rome and Florence and there not being a huge amount to do in Siena. We visited the town’s Duomo, which we liked more than the more famous one in Florence, but that was the extent of our efforts. We mostly wandered, and ate gelato, and wandered some more. It was a welcome change of pace.
On our last night there, Jamal took advantage of the huge kitchen and made dinner for us. We went shopping in town at the pasta shop for fresh made gnocchi, and then Jamal whipped up a San Marzano tomato sauce that was out of this world. We split a caprese salad as an appetizer, with fresh mozzarella from the cheese shop and the most fragrant basil we’ve ever had. We opened the balcony door in the living room while we ate and watched the sun set. The whole meal, with the spectacular view, cost us €9.
Next week: some photos from two side trips into Tuscany, and then it’s off to Paris! Have a great weekend, kiddos.