Today we left bright and early for our day trip to Siena! After a long drive, we headed into the center of the city for a tour led by Andrea, our Italian instructor. The tour began at the Duomo, which has elaborate decorations outside and inside (including two pieces by Donatello). The Duomo also includes a beautiful library full of chant manuscripts with ornate illustrations.
Next, we walked to Piazza del Campo, a shell-shaped piazza at the center of Siena. Each year, this huge piazza turns into the site of the Palio, a horse race between representatives of the different neighborhoods of Siena (the contrade). Andrea took us into the Palazzo Pubblico, the center of Siena’s government. This building has nine rooms with elaborate frescoes, and we focused on a room commemorating the Risorgimento and a room depicting the effects of good and bad government.
After the “official” tour was over, students had free time to explore the city in smaller groups. They were challenged to take pictures with their contrade (for our Spoleto Study Abroad Palio, they’ve been divided into teams) in the neighborhood of their contrade. Many students enjoyed some of the local cuisine and gelato, and some climbed all the way to the top of the tower in the Palazzo Pubblico!
The day ended with a quiet bus ride home, another wonderful dinner at the Clitunno, and some time to relax afterward.