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About Me

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  1. We had planned to make a day trip to the town of Siena today and that meant an early start. Although it seems like there is normally one train per hour between Florence and Siena, on Sundays the timetable is less frequent with the result that there is a gap in trains between half 8 and half 11. We decided our best bet was to get the 08.28 train and set off towards Florence's main train station well in advance of 8am to give ourselves time to buy tickets and find the correct platform. It was lucky that we did because when we got to the station and attempted to buy tickets for the 08.28 from the ticket machine, we were greeted with a message saying that the train we wanted had sold out I'm quite baffled by this as I didn't think it was possible for regional trains to sell out in Italy! It could have been a disaster, but it seemed like tickets were still available for a slightly earlier train, departing at 08.10. We hadn't expected to be at the station early enough to catch this one but we were - just about - because it was approximately 08.04. We faced a battle against time to get the slow Trenitalia ticket machine to sell us tickets, then locate the correct platform for the train. It turned into a bit of a sprint across the station, weaving in and out of the hordes of people with suitcases who filled the concourse, but we made it in the end with about 60 seconds to spare. Phew! What we hadn't had time to do was to validate our train tickets. That's quite important in Italy so could have presented us with a problem. Fortunately, Tim had a pen in his bag and was able to write the time of the train we'd boarded on the back of the tickets. When the inspector came around to check them, that turned out to be sufficient The journey from Florence to Siena took around 90 minutes. When we arrived and exited the station in Siena we were initially a bit unclear about where to go but everyone else who'd got off the train seemed to be crossing the road and entering a large shopping centre, so we opted to follow them. That turned out to be a good decision. The town centre of Siena is situated significantly uphill from where the train station is and by entering the shopping centre we were able to travel on a series of escalators and travelators which took us up the hill with little effort. I think there were at least six escalators in total, so it was quite a hill! Once we eventually emerged into the daylight again, we had a beautiful view of the countryside surrounding Siena. We passed through what looked like a large gate into the old town. Once we were through the gate we found ourselves walking down the narrow streets of Siena. We passed little squares... ...tiny churches... ...and the odd statue. It was all really beautiful. As we walked we noticed there were lots of green and red flags adorning the streets. We assume this is the local city flag. Some of the street lights were painted in matching colours too! At this point we heard what sounded like a loud drumming noise, so we decided to follow it and investigate. Following the drumming took us towards Siena's main square. A procession was passing along the far side of the square and that's where the drumming noise had been coming from. We've got no idea what it was about, but it involved a lot of waving of flags! The main square itself is enormous. The huge building at the centre of it is the town hall. Amazingly, the tower was built in the fourteenth century. It was designed to be the same height as Siena's cathedral, to show that the state and the church were equally powerful. We hadn't seen the cathedral yet, so we continued our explorations. Eventually we got our first glimpse of it at the end of a narrow street. It's hard to be impressed by a cathedral having just seen the enormous Duomo in Florence the day before, but this one is pretty amazing too. It has a really beautiful facade... ...and we could see some gorgeous stained glass inside too. The baptistry on the other side of the cathedral was worth seeing too. We walked around the town a bit further, passing a more modern brick church. The church itself wasn't that exciting compared to the others we've seen so far, but just around the corner from it we had a fantastic view. Not only did we have a spectacular view of the cathedral, but we could also see the tall tower of the town hall. The heat of the day was building up by this point so we found a nearby cafe to relax with a drink followed by a restaurant for a nice meal. I had pappardelle with wild boar ragu, which was amazing! After lunch we had a hot and sticky train ride back to Florence, where we arrived just on time to track down a sports bar to watch Leicester's final game of the season. Unfortunately, things didn't work out for them and they ended up getting relegated. We ate at the bar and then had a final walk through Florence, with some more beautiful views of the Duomo
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