Siena (means the she-wolf) is full of energy, belly buttons, flirts, kisses and drums and sexyness.
“Siena it’s passionate and contemplative, known and unknown, steps and alleyways of days long gone” Dante Alighieri
Visiting it, I took no touristic route, nor today, neither two weeks ago when I saw the city the first time. I have just walked where my eyes took me.
Soundtrack of siena and the contrades
The soundtrack of the city is given by the restless drums of the The Contrade or the flag boys – how I called them.
They represent the areas of the city, and when I say represent, I mean they honor their areas and prepare months in advance for the most important event in Siena, The Horse Race (Palio).
Siena has 17 contrade which all have their own flags and emblems. This brings up some competition to the place. They are the ones throwing flags in the air.
Takes place each year on July 2nd and August 16th is one of the symbols of the city. This race decides which Contrade will represent the city and its a hard race. On bare horse back! Yes, no saddle…respecting the tradition.
Although still more than a month away until the Horse race, I can already see the crowds gathering into the piazza and waiting impatiently for the horses to run. The race which dates from the 6th century, lasts 90 second, has 10 bareback riders and gathers 50,000 visitors each year.
The race takes place in Piazza del Campo, which is a fascinating live theater. I see so many different people sitting on the pavement of the piazza, for so many different reasons,so many worlds in one breath: two friends who just bought a big steamy focaccia and share it in a hurry full of hunger, three girls taking a couple of selfies, until the smile is right, a young couple with her leaning her head on his shoulder and her hair is covering his back …they just dream, another old couple spreading a white paper with cheese, fresh ham, and bread and enjoying a picnic…a mother with her toddler , a young family with the father is throwing his baby in the air enjoying the screams of joy…and in one remote corner, a table full of men singing the football team hymn from Milan. Although remote, their voices are so strong that it only underlines again, the passion Italians put in everything they do.
Siena’s historical beauty
Walking on the streets of Siena, I was watching the people all the time, doing what they do with or without me watching them. I was mostly attracted about the locals: I saw them kissing on small church steps, away from crowded areas…another old man was trying to throw a key to a woman on the first floor, as he was down in front of the house. After two unsuccessful attempts, he could neither throw the key to the lady, nor catch it back, so he just decided to take it him self. Later, I saw three old men laughing, and having fun like they were 16 on the way home after a great day in the high school.
italian men and flirting
The underground passage has walls paved with art, but this story is not about that.
As I was going down the stairs to reach the parking lot, three men crossing my way, stared at me, from tip to toe. There was nobody else in that underground passage, other than me and 3 men…starring. I just started laughing, because they didn’t look away for a second, not even when I showed embarrassment and also because, they were much older than me.
But in Italy, I have long learned to take this fact as a compliment. Men here admire women, as they do art. It’s the same form of lust. I personally do not consider it vulgar. And art is to be found and looked for, in every corner of Italy. Italians live looking for beauty, and what that beauty means…is as private of a choice as the color of your underwear.
How to find your car easier than I did
I walked one hour to find my car, which I enjoyed nevertheless, but my advice is not to trust the navigation systems on your smartphones, over the advice from the local. Mine, wanted me to jump over churches and buildings or to walk on streets which had dead ends. Ask the locals..interact, speak with your hands, if Italian is not at hand, or just try English instead.
Siena smells like ice cream, tastes like a kiss and looks like Claudia Cardinale.