Today we left Assisi and traveled through the Tuscan region to Siena. We started with a walking tour of this beautiful city. Our first stop today was the Basilica di San Domenico which was started in 1226 and finished in the late 15th century.
St. Catherine of Siena came to this beautiful church as a young intern, and it houses some relics of St. Catherine. She is special to the people here because she devoted herself to God at a young age, and she is one of only four female doctors of the Catholic church. She is also the patron saint of Siena and of Italy.
We continued through the narrow streets of Siena to the main street, which is part of the Via Francigena. This was a holy pilgrimage route that goes all the way from Canterbury to Rome, over 2,000 km.
We left Via Francigena and entered the city square of Siena, the Piazza del Campo. In this large square, the neighborhoods of Siena host a semi-annual horse race. Each of the seventeen neighborhoods cheer wildly for the horse representing their neighborhood. Typically, 40,000 people gather in the square to watch a 3-lap horse race that lasts only 75 seconds!
After leaving Siena, we had lunch at Tenuta Torciano, a beautiful winery in Tuscany. With a legacy of fifteen generations of winemakers (est. 1720), they served a tasting of their wines, olive oils and aged balsamic vinegar, as well as “Grandma’s Lasagna” (which was delicious!). We took a large group photo after lunch in a very hot Italian afternoon (104° F).
After lunch we headed to the medieval town of San Gimignano, where we had some free time to visit the town church and old defense towers.
Today was very long and hot, but also inspiring! We arrived in Florence, ate dinner, and headed to our rooms (which were air conditioned!).
Arrivederci, until tomorrow!