Monday, 20 September 2010
I loved Siena. Breakfasting on peaches and sugar-dusted pastries. The steep, narrow streets contrasting with the wide open Piazza del Campo, sun-filled at midday, the shadow of the tower working its way around the square as it crept towards evening. Huge slices of pizza for our lunches often, eaten in the sloping square, stones warm beneath us. Climbing the tower one day, Siena spread below, red roofed and higgledy piggledy, olive groves and vineyards beyond. Shutters and cobblestones. Basil plants on windowsills with huge, fragrant leaves. The cathedral, huge and zebra striped, filled with detailed mosaics and flickering candles. The dog in the apartment opposite that, paws on the balcony wall, stood and watched the street below with avid interest for hours at a time. The menagerie of animal mascots belonging to each Contrada that appeared as constant motifs throughout the city; panthers and porcupines, snails and rhinoceros. The brightly coloured flags and medieval costumes that accompanied a procession through the Contrada we were staying in, the rattle of snare drums reverberating through the streets. Ice creams, huge and quickly melting, usually some sort of fruit flavour for me, chocolate or coffee varieties for M. Pine nut ice cream, chosen on a whim, subtlety flavoured, absolutely delicious. Dinners by candle-light, pizzas that I'm still dreaming of, pasta too.