Siena hides surprises around every corner, one moment a narrow claustrophobic alley bursts open into the grand vastness of the UNESCO World heritage site, the Piazza del Campo – one of the greatest medieval public spaces; at another the shadows of the tall brown medieval structures housing glitzy storefronts give way to the the austere facade of a chapel bathed in warm sunlight.
From a perch atop the Duomo, a panorama of the countryside extends around. The twists and turns of the Italian town are a warm Siena brown, a stark contrast to the verdant green of the Tuscan countryside beyond.
On a warm summer day in May, a buzz leads crowds in droves towards a focal point somewhere. The trickle growing as we move forward uncertain of what lies ahead only to be rewarded by a display of flagmanship announcing the contestants for that year’s Palio – the horse race that is the pride of Siena. Drums, colour and plenty of local pride on display as the city prepares for the grandest event in its calendar.
And then all at once the drumming ends, the flags are tucked away and life goes on as usual, but the display has not gone unnoticed. It has left the promise of more discoveries that are yours for the taking, and suddenly it seems as if Siena has let you in an insider secret – you now belong. And you cannot wait to come back for more.
By Srikanth Sk