I hope y’all are getting used to communicating with me solely through blogs and social media, because it’s going to be rough trying to drag me onto the plane back home, especially after my day in the countryside! It’s true – Tuscany is just as picturesque and incredible as the movies, postcards, and alluring pictures on the internet show!
First stop: SIENA.
Even though I felt sick the entire bus ride and was about to pass out (accidental binge eating fest with the roomies the night before… the “you’re only in Italy once” excuse also comes with consequences…), the views out the bus window were amazing. I’m a sucker for anything green and anything hilly, so obviously this was an eyegasm for me. We drove past never-ending rolling hills, tons of vineyards, flowers, and made our way through a windy road.
When we got to Siena, we had a tour first. We went to the Duomo, Museo Civico, the Cathedral of Siena, and the Palazzo Pubblico.
Okay, let me just stop right here. I was NOT prepared for the glory of the cathedral. Apparently, I’m really ignorant because I knew that the churches are very elaborate and incredible, but I didn’t stop to think about just how elaborate they are on the inside too! I don’t even know how the Cathedral of Siena compares to other famous ones in Europe but OH MY GOD, IT WAS BEAUTIFUL!
Sadly, I missed every single cool historical fact our guide told us because I was too busy gawking at the designs and architecture, and too busy noticing a new detail every second. How is it even possible to be this intricate?! Honestly, I could have happily stayed in there for 3 months straight and I wouldn’t have picked up on every detail. After looking at the main inside part and all of the beautiful marble “stories” on the ground and the hundreds of Pope heads embedded along the ceiling, we went into the “library”. This was an extremely beautiful room, with choir books and every inch of the ceiling covered with frescoes. The frescoes tell the story of the life of Siena’s favorite son, cardinal Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who eventually became Pope. Then, we went into the Chigi Chapel, which is the most luxurious sculptural addition to the Duomo – so much gold! The ceiling was beautiful here also, but thats kind of a “duh” statement.
Next, we saw the Museo Civico (very cool museum) and the Palazzo Pubblico, which is Siena’s main town square. After checking it all out, our tour ended and we could finally get lunch! My friends and I wandered until we came across a little place that caught our eye (it’s really simple for us – just put a bunch of Italian baked goods in the window). In addition to all the fresh-baked pieces of heaven calling our names, they had some sort of pizza-like thing (but not quite pizza) that looked incredible. The one we all got had probably about 5 cheeses and amazing mushrooms in it… it was seriously SO GOOD. And then of course I had to get some goods because I’m only in Italy once. (This is actually untrue but is the perfect way to validate my overeating to myself :D). The big puffy thing is kind of crunchy and has some amazing ricotta cream in it!
Next stop: San Gimignano!
As soon as our bus pulled up, I knew that this was the perfect Tuscan landscape that I had dreams about, pictured in my head when I talked about Italy, and imagined myself frolicking through while tasting wine in the sunshine and light breeze with my floppy hat and a dress. While I casually picked up sunflowers in the midst of my skipping. (I may have thought about this really often..)
Anyways, the views were incredible from the start. Here’s our view from right when we walked up and when I decided that I was moving here to live in an adorable stone house and watch the sun set over the vineyards every night.
Our 2 hours here was solely free time, so we just started wandering. Honestly, my soul is the happiest when I’m aimlessly wandering down cobblestone streets with no agenda and pure bliss from the beautiful sights and mystery of what I’ll come upon next. We walked down a ton of beautiful streets, then stopped at a wall with a beautiful panoramic view for a romantic moment together.
Because we’re “only in Italy once”, we decided to ignore our upset stomaches and dwindling wallets and go for some gelato because it was at Gelateria Dondoli – which is owned by master chef Sergio Dondoli and who’s gelato is famous all over the world for being the “best ice cream in the world!” Apparently, it’s mentioned in the most important world tours and is continually visited by national and international television. I’m not a gelato expert yet (keyword: yet. It’s a new goal) so I’m not sure what exactly made it better, but it was indeed delicious, perfectly flavored, and creamy creamy creamy! I got one scoop espresso, one scoop cinnamon!
Our day ended with a stroll through an unknown area that just looked really pretty. And we were right – it was an awesome little park and had a great stone building that we wanted to climb up to the top of, but we didn’t have time.
I had extreme inner conflict on the way back to the bus (should I just “get lost” and then never get my own bus back?) but I consoled myself with the fact that it’ll be at least a second home one day 😉 Really though. I wish all of you guys could have spent this perfect day in the countryside with me!