It's Just Becks

Siena | Churchy Dilemmas

After a last minute rush to get to the station in Bologna, I enjoyed a chilled half hour ride to Florence on the super snazzy high speed train. I hadn’t bought the train ticket for Florence to Siena just in case my first train was delayed, and so once I’d arrived in Florence then had to join the epic queues for a ticket machine. Time was ticking on, and although I didn’t have a set train to miss, I didn’t want to spend all day in Florence train station, and I had someone waiting for me in Siena.

Although I had some problems with my card working in the machine, I soon had a ticket in my hand and made my way to the platform bound for Siena. A short 90-minute journey into Siena and I followed the instructions given to me to meet the host of my apartment. I was a little unsure about being met at the station as it’s not the norm when staying in apartments, but as I made my way up the 6 escalators and 4 travellators I decided to embrace the kindness of this stranger…in plain sight of other people.

The apartment host met me at the top of the longest escalator-travellator journey ever, and together we walked to the apartment, with him giving me a tour of the tiny city as we walked. He pointed out places he’d recommend to eat, or enjoy a drink, sights and even giving me some history of the city. Finally arriving at the apartment, I couldn’t believe what a gem I’d managed to book, again!

I spent the rest of the afternoon enjoying a relaxed stroll around the centre of the city, took a seat in Piazza del Campo and was welcomed by the local wildlife as a bird pooped on my leg. Again. Thankfully – maybe… – I was wearing shorts, so I could just wipe my leg and carry on. Thank goodness for the wet wipes I’d been carrying around in my bag! Wandering along the charming streets that branch off from Piazza del Campo I found a cute little café in a courtyard and stopped to enjoy a coffee and watch the other tourists bustling about. 

Stopping by the supermarket on my way to the apartment, I took full advantage of having a kitchen in the apartment and bought things to make dinner for the next couple of days. People always seem confused that I cook while I’m away, but aside from the cost, I don’t enjoy eating out every night and actually enjoy making food for myself. With a cosy night planned at the apartment, I did some washing and made some dinner. I attempted to book some things for my next stop in Salerno so that it wouldn’t be a next day booking like usual, but my phone was playing up and there was no WiFi in the apartment so I quickly called it quits before watching a few episodes of Chicago Fire that I’d downloaded for the train journey and hadn’t watched.

Waking up to my only full day in Siena I was aware that there wasn’t a huge amount to see in the day, so had a lazy start before heading out to the cathedral. Up the hilly streets to the area that had the cathedral and related buildings, I made my way to the ticket office and was instantly confused. There are a number of related sights to see, and a variety of ticket options depending on which you’d like to see. If I’d done my research then I could have come prepared and known which ticket I needed. Of course I hadn’t researched, and instead spent the short queue time trying to frantically google which I wanted to see before arriving at the desk and inevitably getting the wrong ticket.

Never mind, it still had plenty on there that I wanted to see, and I made the huge, impressive cathedral my first stop. Evidently hard work, I decided it was the perfect time post-cathedral to stop for a slice of pizza. When in Italy and whatnot! Ever conscious of how tasty Italian food is and how poor my willpower is to not eat everything, I took the long way back to the cathedral area so I could continue with my visit, this time stopping in to Museo Dell’Opera del Duomo. Although I was happy to see the relics and cool statues here, my main reason for visiting – other than it was on the ticket – was to head out on the panoramic walkway that is part of the old cathedral.

Unfortunately it was really warm in the museum, and the wait to head out on the walkway was fairly long, and I started to feel really unwell. Thinking it probably wasn’t the wisest decision to venture out on a 131-step climb up narrow staircases when I didn’t feel great, I scrapped that idea and after checking out the rest of the museum left. Another unexpected item on my ticket was the crypt of the cathedral, so of course I went there after the museum. Preparing myself for a visit with a lot of coffins, what I actually found was really cool – the remains of the old church paintings.

By this point, I’d had enough of church related sightseeing and decided it was the perfect time to stop for a coffee and recharge. Making my way to Fonte Nuova D’Ovile, I was expecting to find a charming fountain, possibly with a nice ambience and coffee shops nearby. What I actually found was a couple of huge water boxes and a few giggling Italian girls on a nearby bench. Not quite what I was hoping for, so carried on to check out a nearby city gate before trekking up a steep hill to visit Basilica di San Francesco.

While the square outside the church was brimming with people, some of whom stopped me to ask me to take photos of them, inside the church it was completely empty. A large area of the main church was bare, with no chairs, and as I wandered through it felt really eery and like someone was watching me. As I approached the altar, I was suprised to find that there were actually a number of smaller chapels hidden along the top of the T shaped building. A quick look around, and I continued my search for a coffee, before giving up and deciding to just call it a night.

The hilly streets of Siena had taken it out of me, and I was ready for a quiet night trying to book the train and accommodation for my next stop, but as I wandered back to the apartment the host text me to let me know there was a jazz festival in the old city fortress. How often do I get to go to a fort and a jazz festival at the same time? After getting a bit lost, I ended up in an old fort, soaking up the jazzy vibes while I watched the sun start to set over the city.

Not wanting to stay out too late, I made my way back to the apartment once I finished my drink, and got to work booking the next leg of my trip to Salerno, making dinner and trying to dry my clothes before packing them. Unfortunately the apartment didn’t appreciate my epic productivity alongside leaving all the lights on, and the fuse kept blowing. Thankfully the host was super helpful and the city really small so he came and showed me how to fix it in no time and I was able to slowly get all my bits and pieces sorted.

Next morning it was time to move on again, this time for Salerno. I was grateful for the relatively early start as it wasn’t too warm as I carried my bag to the station, made my way down the epic number of escalators and travelators and jumped on a regional train for Florence. Once there, I was on the hunt for a coffee, some food and a quick toilet stop. Evidently Florence train station doesn’t believe in public toilets or seating areas, and after joining the longest queue ever to use the McDonalds toilet I took a seat in the corner of Florence train station to wait for my typically Italian delayed train to take me to Salerno.

< Bologna | # 25 | Salerno >

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