Calder Classics

A Day in Siena

Calder ClassicsComment

Today was a jam-packed day of sight-seeing, adventuring, and learning in the city of Siena, about an hour's drive from Florence. We were accompanied by a friend of Cindy's, Leonardo. Leonardo is from Florence and has taught as a teaching assistant at Middlebury College in Italian and currently is a graduate student at the University of Michigan. His mother is from Siena, so he knows the city well and led us as we adventured throughout the city. In the morning, when we arrived in Siena, we curiously meandered about town, finally arriving in the main piazza of the city, where we saw the preparations for the Palio all around us. The Palio is the horse race of Siena between different regions of the city that takes place twice a year: once in early July and once in August. The competition is a huge event, drawing crowds from the entire city, and is taken very seriously by locals devoted to their region of the city. After learning about this, we toured the Town Hall of Siena, a magnificent building on the main piazza of the city. On the walls of the Town Hall are beautiful paintings of the important figures of Siena and depictions of the values of the city. In one room, the walls are made of frescoes contrasting good and bad governments: on one side is a peaceful city surrounding by thriving farms, and on the other side is a city plagued by corrupt leaders and murder. Many of the inscriptions on these frescoes are written in Latin and could be read by our students! We took a few minutes to appreciate the views from the top of the Town Hall, where we had nearly panoramic views of an incredible green countryside. After visiting the Town Hall, we stopped for lunch at a local restaurant recommended by our knowledgeable guide Leonardo. Having devoured our delicious meals of pasta, we headed to the Duomo of Siena, one of the most beautiful and well-known Cathedrals in all of Italy. The floor is decorated with immaculately preserved marble depictions of sybils, or seers, giving their varied predictions. These predictions come directly from ancient Latin texts, including Virgil's Eclogues, and with the help of Mrs. Calder and our trip's chaperone Sadie, our students were able to recognize Latin words and read phrases. In addition to the main Cathedral, there is an attached Libreria Piccolomini, containing old Latin scriptures preserved by the Monks of the Middle Ages and also beautifully decorated with painted scenes from the Bible. Once we had taken in all the Duomo's splendor, we headed back to the station to return to Florence. While we waited for the bus, some students enjoyed gelato and others played with a soccer ball bought at a nearby store. On the way back to Florence, some napped happily and others enjoyed the views of the lush Tuscan countryside and Chianti vineyards. Either way, it was a full day of exploring and learning, as our students appreciated the art, the Latin, and the history of Siena that lives on today.

Boys playing soccer at the station.

Boys playing soccer at the station.

Our students and guide Leonardo at the Duomo di Siena!

Our students and guide Leonardo at the Duomo di Siena!

Awesome views from the top of the Town Hall in Siena!

Awesome views from the top of the Town Hall in Siena!

The main town square all set up for next week's Palio.

The main town square all set up for next week's Palio.

The frescoes on the wall of the Town Hall of what a good government looks like. By Sadie Holmes

The frescoes on the wall of the Town Hall of what a good government looks like.

By Sadie Holmes

About | Contact Us | Join our Mailing List | Follow us on Twitter | Like us on Facebook
Copyright © 2015 Calder Classics LLC | All illustrations by Meredith Hamilton