Today I visited Siena (not Sienna) which is situated halfway between Firenze and Roma. It is medieval town which includes more than few dozen churches strewn throughout its meandering hilly streets. I am thankful for the calves Seattle has given me as I really needed them today to roam around the town. I arrived a little before noon and soon discovered to my delight that it is already preparing for the Christmas season with the hanging of lights throughout the streets; sadly I was only there during the day so I missed actually seeing them lit. There is apparently a university located in the town which I stumbled upon as I at first through the buildings were a part of the church I was exploring. It is sometimes difficult for this American to comprehend being able to work and live in such history; I am very envious of the students.
Given that today was extremely overcast and a bit chilly I decided to spend a disproportionate amount of my time indoors. I stumbled upon Duomo di Siena (Cathedral of Siena) in my meanderings whereupon I purchased a ticket to visit the museum, crypt, cathedral, and climb up some very steep and narrow rounding stairs to get a panoramic view of the town. What excited me about the cathedral is that they allow photographs, albeit without use of flash or tripod. I had hoped to take some long exposure photographs; however, given this was not an option I instead opted to rely on HDRI which I just started using yesterday in Firenze. While I think long exposures are preferable in these situations, nevertheless HDR allows me to grab photographs that would otherwise require a tripod or a god-like steady-hand which I am not blessed with.
Siena is Firenze toned down in terms of tourism. It very much reminded me of Cambridge, England when I visited three years ago right before Christmas. People are out and about, chatting, window-shopping and generally doing the things that people do that live in a city. Certainly the city caters to tourists and frankly does a very admirable job of doing so at a very reasonable price in terms of tickets and audio-guides. For people looking to explore Roma and Tuscany then I highly suspect Siena is just about the perfect size and location for a vacation geared at taking it slower and yet affording itself the opportunity to drink in all that Roma, Siena, Firenze and Tuscany has to offer.