Sunday, October 28, 2012

Italy Day Seven; Escalators and stairs, churches and gelato

On this day we let the kids sleep in a bit.  It seemed right given that we were vacation and had been getting up early nearly every day.  

After a leisurely morning we left for Siena.  It was about a 45 minute drive from our place in Radda over picturesque roads

Siena is a medieval town surrounded by a large wall.  It has a limited traffic zone meaning you have to park outside the walls and walk in.  We like these cities with fewer cars -- less chance of getting squashed like a bug on cobblestone.  Fewer cars is all well and good but first one must get in to the city.  

We had a difficult time finding parking .  Our hope was to park close to the walls thus limiting the amount of hiking to get inside.  I know I keep saying it but our dogs were tired.  Let me put it to you this way -- by this point in our trip I’d already worn holes in two (TWO) pairs of socks and Little’s pinky toenail was AWOL.  

It was challenging getting these kids out of bed let alone convincing them to go on a hike.  Therefore we didn’t quite tell the kids what we were doing when we gave up parking near the wall and went to one of the lower lots.  We figured we’d just start walking (aka hiking) and the kids would eventually figure out what cruel and evil people we were.

We parked at the Il Campo Lot which ended up being fabulous.   I can't recommend it more.  

We got out and began our hike to the city (again not tell the kids just how far we had to go).  We went up a small hill and turned to the right following the signs to the city.  

When what to our wondering eyes did appear?  No, no, not a reindeer.  More serendipitous than that -- we found a series of escalators all the way up to the city.  Hallelujah!  A break for our feet and fun to boot.  We were in escalator heaven. 

We entered the city near the Duomo.  As we turned the corner we found ourselves at it’s back side (this must’ve been where you lived Rachel!).  

I don’t really know how to describe the churches here in Italy.  They are majestic, intricate, beautiful and awe-inspiring.  And they seem to come out of nowhere.  

Little took a brief break on the steps of the church (tired from all that escalating).  Then we went to find coffee.  The coffee shop also happened to be a gelateria.  Mistake.  The kids immediately wanted gelato.  We, parents, thought they should have breakfast first because, you know, Nutella filled croissants are WAY healthier than gelato.  

The coffee shop was just off the main campo in Siena.  While Mr. Peculiar paid I took the kids down to see the campo.  I was trying to explain the Palio to them (which is an annual horse race right through the square.  

Then we started talking about the bell tower and I casually mentioned that one could climb to the top.  The kids got crazy excited and all wanted to it.  Really?  Ye who wouldn’t get out of bed? Ye who would have melted into a pile on pavement had we not found an escalator?  Ye children want to climb 300 steps up to see the view of the city?  Yes. Yes they did.  

And so we did.  We forked over 8 euros apiece, checked our purses at the door and climbed.  The stairs were narrow (I’d not recommend this for a claustrophobic person) and steep. The stairs and railing with silky smooth -- worn down from all the hands and feet passing over time.  

The view from the top was, of course, gorgeous.  More exciting to the kids was a baby pigeon on the landing.  

And then back down.  Down, down, down the steps we had just climbed.  

When we got back it was time for gelato.  After all we’d earned it.  But first -- lunch.    We wandered around the back streets and came across Cava De’Noveschi - a little restaurant and champagnerie.  

The food was wonderful but a bit fancy for the kids.  We ordered the girls pasta with shrimp which they normally would have eaten.  However I made the mistake of telling them it was cooked in champagne -- bleech, eech, yuck.  There was also the little matter of the shrimp still having eyes.  In different packaging the meal would’ve been devoured.  As is stood Mama and Papa enjoyed it with our champagne.  The kids sat and pouted because they didn’t want to be in a “fancy alcohol place.”  

Too bad little people.  Just be glad you were sitting!

The restaurant was just down the road from the Duomo.  So it made sense to go visit before ice cream.  Another decision heavily protested by the younger set.  Alas they don’t make the rules.  

The protesting quieted down once we entered the church.  Out of all the churches in Italy this is my favorite.  There are stars on the ceiling and moons on the floor.  Again I can’t even begin to describe these places -- words fail me.  All I can say it visit if you can.  You won’t regret it. 

After church? Gelato time!  You knew we wouldn’t leave the city without partaking at least once.  

Then time to go back to the car.  

I had the parking ticket in my purse and this time we were smart enough to pay before going to the car (cash only).  

We had a bit of trouble getting out of town.  We got mixed up and went South instead of North and therefore got an unanticipated tour of the rest of the city.  

Our plan was to go home to rest and then go back out to get some dinner.  But when we got back we met up with Nora and our plans changed.  

Turns out there had been some unwanted activity overnight and Nora needed our help.  


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