Home of the Palio and St. Catherine


For the Last Breakfast we chatted with all of our tour mates.  Some were heading home, some traveling to other spots in Italy, others leaving for other countries. 

Pete and I planned one more day in Florence before flying back.  With Lisa’s help we took a day trip to Siena.   I picked Siena, because of my confirmation name Catherine of Siena. The famed patron saint of the city convinced the pope to return to Rome and to negotiate peace with the Florentines. Only a 45-minute bus ride to Siena we easily walked right into the Il Campo, one of the most grand piazzas in Italy. Twice a year this stunning city square turns into a raucous horse track for the fastest bareback horse race ever. The 17 contrade battle for the honor of the Palio – a banner honoring the Virgin Mary. Flags of the contrade line the streets. An espresso and wine at a table overlooking the Il Campo was a must as the locals enjoy life and a sunny day.  The Fonte Gaia – fountain of Joy represents life is good in Siena as the pidgeons drink water from the mouth of the marble wolf. I bought a flag for the Oca -Goose Contrada – Catherine’s hometown contrada.

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 We toured the Duomo magnificent inside and out. The marble floors line the aisle with intricate designs. Your eyes are drawn everywhere with the towering arches and sculptures by Michelangelo and Bernini. The Piccolomini Library’s frescos depict the life of Aeneas Piccolomini who started as a noble and ended up Pope. Honoring Catherine we visited her home and the Church of San Domenico where her relic – skull is venerated. We dined for lunch at another Rick recommendation:  Antica Osteria Da Divo having Risotto with shaved Truffles, can't pass up the truffles. Back in Florence for the evening we strolled around the Palazzo Vecchio and found the profile of Michelangelo carved into the wall. Gelato capped off the last night of a dream vacation.

The next morning off to the airport on the new Tram Line T2 Vespucci straight from the Santo Maria Novella station to Peretola Airport in 21 minutes. 

Vacations are always too short, but my memories of my first Rick Steve’s tour will last a lifetime.  Now I must plan my next Rick Steve’s European Adventure. 

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Ciao! Keep seeing the world thru Rick's eyes