Day Three: Continued
If I thought the train to Chiusi left much to be desired, it was a palatial palace on wheels compared to the transportation to Siena. What arrived at the platform looked more like a shunting engine from a goods yard, yet it was announced as the 'regionale' train to Siena and others began piling on to the single unit that made up engine and carriage. Once on board it seemed better than first expected but quickly become hot and stuffy, even with the windows down. The journey lasted long enough for me to get that horrible feeling of having sat in a hot car for too long but was made bearable by the fantastic Tuscan scenery and The Kings Speech on iPad. Once in Siena I hunted fruitlessly for the bus stand for Siena Centro and was eventually joined by several Americans having no better luck. After a while we gleaned that the bus we wanted was not to be found at the bus stop, but across the square, through a shopping mall, across its carpark and down in to the basement levels - simple when you know how of course. €1 later and we tumbled out at Piazza del Sale, some way from the historical centre of Siena, but as far as a bus of this size (single decker, typical local bus) could take us. From here on I walked through Siena, past the famous Piazza del Campo and off in the wrong direction entirely, discovering along the way exactly how Tuscans can eat som much pasta and pizza, yet remain fit; those hills are killer. Eventually a friendly Carabinieri pointed me in the right direction (back across Piazza del Campo) and off I went, finding the residence on a side street off the square.
Arriving here I found a group of American students studying art at the university here, from what I gathered they were all from Georgia and had about 2 weeks left of their programme here. Some confusion ensued as I'd been given the key to room 3, which was already occupied: thankfully there were two 'room 3's and after dumping my possessions and freshening up, I headed to Campo to relax and soak up the atmosphere.
Whilst there, the sound of drumming and singing started to filter down from some of the alleyways leading off the square, I would learn later that this was the winning Contrada, the Oca, celebrating their win at the Palio on July 2nd, less than a week ago. At the time though I had no idea what the purpose of this raucous and merry procession was, headed by a single drummer leading two flag twirling men and behind them a hoard of men, women and children singing and marching along. It would seem this spectacle is going to be a nightly occurrence, so I'll see if I can get better photos tomorrow.