Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March 20

Upon waking in beautiful Siena, our group prepared itself for a day of site presentations. After a quick breakfast in our cozy hotel, we started out towards the Duomo. Lindsay was our first guide, explaining how the topography of the hilly area challenged medieval city planners. From there, Carolyn took over, detailing the history of the Cathedral, a great example of Italian Gothic architecture. Carolyn focused on the never-finished reconstruction of the church in the early 14th century, which produced several architectural remnants now housing the Duomo Museum. Here, Allegra spoke on Duccio’s Maesta, the large altarpiece that once stood on the main altar of the cathedral.
After stopping for a quick caffe, we continued down the Via del Pellegrino (Pilgrim Street!) to the Campo, the huge piazza in front of the Palazzo Pubblico or town hall.


Here Natalie discussed how the civic function of the structure is expressed in its design. Once inside, we viewed both the Lorenzetti Allegory of Good and Bad Government, a topic covered by Emily, and the Guidoriccio fresco, presented by Flora.
Perhaps the most harrowing part of the day was the climb to the top of the Torre del Mangia at the Palazzo Pubblico. Siena was once graced with many private towers, truncated in the later Middle Ages; this public tower alone still stands to its full height. Squeezing through cramped stairwells and enduring terrifying vertigo were rewarded when we reached the top, which offered unparalleled views of the city.


We boarded a chartered bus and headed for Viterbo, traveling through the beautiful countryside of southern Tuscany and northern Latium. The sun began to set as we reached the shore of the beautiful Lago di Bolsena and it was near dark when we got to Viterbo. There we enjoyed a stroll through the city’s medieval quarter, lively with Saturday night revelers. A delicious dinner at a nearby pizzeria, popular with locals, rounded out our busy day!

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