Tuesday, February 23, 2010

San Gimignano and Siena

I was getting a little bit stir-crazy in Florence. This damn city is so small. I was really feeling the repitition. On the weekdays: Get up at 10, get ready for school, class until 8:30, go home, hang out with my friends. On the weekends: party. I've walked past the same buildings with the same art through the same piazzas by the same museums every damn day. I felt like I'd discovered mostly all there was to discover about Florence. Plus, there are no trees in Florence. Anywhere. It really starts to bother a person when you live in a city so old it has literally killed all the soil's potential to produce grass. I needed to get out of Florence for a weekend and see something new. I needed to start nursing my travel addiction. Buzzaro mentioned earlier in the week that he wanted to do a small weekend trip to a little town called San Gimignano and then from there go to Siena for the night. I said absolutely and geared myself up for some fresh air and hillsides.

I woke up at 5:30 in the morning. I haven't woken up that early since I lived in Manhattan and somehow it felt nice. To see the San Lorenzo being set up at this time after a nice shower and some coffee rather than at this hour after walking home still sort of drunk was a refreshing transition. I met Buzzaro and Poeta and together the three of us ran to catch our bus which was departing in 5 short minutes. We'd put the effort in to get up that early and we'd all gone out the night before. Letting that effort go to waste would have been blasphemous. We made it to the station just in time. Thank God, too, because the bus ride alone was enough to make the trip worth it. After a long time of seeing things that were all the same it was incredible to see some countryside. Nature, finally: trees, grass, hills, vineyards. Breathtaking Tuscany whooshed by my window because obviously the bus drivers here feel the need to pretend they are in Ferrari's.

We made it to San Gimignano at exactly the time we were scheduled to arrive. I stepped off of the bus and into Italy-the photogenic Italy with flowerpots hanging from the windows and old ladies beating their rugs out on the lawn. Poeta, Buzzaro, and I were honestly mystified. We stood and breathed in the fresh air for a minute or two before making our way toward a small Pasticerria so they could have some breakfast. Poeta found himself some donut holes (which he complemented with a refreshing coke).San Gimignano is situated at the top of a very large Tuscan hill and we sat, they muching on their breakfasts, and we looked out at the landscape, completely awestruck. We made our way through the city gates and wandered the streets all morning long. San Gimignano, at one point, had two families or something at war with one another. We passed about a hundred shops with different kinds of knives and swords and axes which I can only assume were stores those families frequented. I almost bought a throwing star for 5 Euros. We passed a torture museum with a life-size replica of a werewolf and I wasn't so sure it was really a replica. The walls were lined with human skulls and a full human skeleton hung inside a cage from the ceiling. If I wasn't awake when I got off the bus, I was after that.

After a while of walking around the small town and exploring, we sat down in a small cafe in the Piazza Duomo. Their Duomo is but an ant when compared with ours, but it was still beautiful. I ordered a machiato and an almond biscotti. I'm sorry, Starbucks. As much as I love you, you cannot dream to create biscotti or machiato's as good as those in San Gimignano. I loved the biscotti so much I talked about how much I loved it all day, annoying Buzzaro, Poeta, and myself. We went walking again after that following signs for a Medieval fountain. We wound up walking down a hill so steep the three of us commented extensively on how shitty the walk back up would be. The fountain that dated back to the eleventh century and the feeling of oldness permeated all around. It was so fucking cool. We saw a little path, lined with bushes and pretty flowers, and decided to go down it. We found another fountain there, this one even prettier than the last. It even had a mosaic inside-it was a blue woman in a yellow backround. That is my favorite color combination in the world and I stood staring for quite a while. I daydreamed about myself living there in the eleventh century and I'm quite certain I'd have been a frequent skinny-dipper in this fountain. I was horribly reluctant to leave (and not just because I didn't want to walk back up the mini-mountain).

We hiked around the city until mid-afternoon. We went up towers and down narrow streets. We walked along the outskirts of the city and saw some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen. The boys kept talking about vantage points and methods of killing people because apparently there is some video game with a level that takes place in this town. I spent a solid two years of my life hanging out with kids who were gamers and the gaming discussions the guys were having made me feel really comfortable. I was in great company and my day turned out exactly as I needed. After eating some delicious pizza we got on another bus and made our way to Siena.

THE SUN CAME OUT! The sun refuses to shine in Florence and I was feeling a serious lack of Vitamin D. In Siena the sun was shining, bright and brilliantly revitalizing. I hadn't understood until I got to Siena how desperately I'd been needing an uncloudy day. We walked to the Piazza del Campo-the biggest Piazza I've been in so far. It houses a castle which I never went in and functions as a sort of hill where people sit and don't do much else. We walked to the Piazza Duomo. Buzzaro felt that this Duomo's facade was much better than the facade of the Duomo in Florence and it was in this moment that I had a minor epiphany. "Our Duomo is still better!" I was defending my Duomo in Florence. Somehow I've managed to identify the Duomo in Florence as my own. No other Italian Duomo will ever feel like "my" Duomo because I've already got one. I suppose its a good thing then that "my" Duomo also happens to be the most famous. Siena's facade was alright, I guess.

By this time it was around 4 o'clock and I hadn't had a drink yet. I've been flirting casually with alcoholism lately. I drink alot of wine, okay? I was seriously craving alcohol after such a long day. It wasn't just me, either. The boys needed some, too. We sat down in the Campo for a drink and waited on Carino who was meeting us there. We ordered beers and people watched. Carino showed up just in time for us to notice something peculiar happening in the Piazza. People in the creepiest masks ever were walking up to couples and other groups and staring at them. Some would sit in front of young children and just look. Others would follow groups of people around the Piazza. Their masks were all of famous figures and were distorted to make them uglier than they were originally. There was a Hitler and an Einstein and a John F. Kennedy. For those of you who've ever been to Fright Fest at Great Adventure, they acted EXACTLY like the clowns do in the Boardwalk. They would get really close to people's faces and wouldn't budge. It was really weird and caused my thought patterns to steer towards social experiments. I assure you, readers, it is always unpleasant to think about social experiments. My beer was good, though.

Later in the night we went back to the Campo for some Aperitivo. This is when you can order a bottle of wine at a restaurant, sit down and drink it, and enjoy their mini buffets. Poeta had gone back to Florence by this time and Buzzaro, Carino, and myself killed off a bottle of San Gimignano's famous white wine. We went thrifting in a really small place and met the owner there whose name was Lollo. Her shop was small it but was a real gem and I'm sorry I didn't buy anything. She told us about what was going on in Siena for the night. There was a small bar where a local band would be playing. It was so exclusive in Siena that you needed to pay cover and have the invite to get in. I had another minor epiphany then because I immediately missed Florence. Alot. That was honestly the only nightlife Siena had to offer on a Saturday. After dinner (finally I had ravioli's) we realized what an epidemic this was. TEENAGERS! Siena was teeming with them. It was like Brick Barnes and Nobles on a Friday at 10. It was awful. I loathe teenagers. I understand I'm still technically a teenager, but I'm talkin' 14 and 15 year olds here. The worst part was they were all wearing white pants. I was furious at them for wearing white pants. You may have sun there in Siena but it is NOT the time for white pants yet. Carino, Buzzaro, and I decided we were going to buy a couple 40's each to bring back to our hotel. We drank in the streets, obviously, then hung in the hotel for the night, finally able to enjoy some Olympics. I wound up drinking half of one and passing out.

The next day was quite uneventful. We walked around Siena all morning and lounged in the Campo, bathing ourselves in some sun rays. The busride home was peaceful and I was actually rather excited to get back home. I had my last epiphany on the bus, thinking about going home. Because Florence has become home. I don't know when or how it happened but I managed to carve a little place in my heart for Florence.
Arriverderci, for now.
Love, Gabby

1 comment:

  1. You have the ability to hook someone to your writing. Really you've done a wonderful job with this blog...while reading it I feel like I'm there... Keep up the good work! xo