Sublime Siena and fabulous but far-too-full Florence

Siena is such a popular tourist spot that we were concerned that we wouldn’t find a place to park our camper van but fortunately we came upon a large car park which was almost empty and only a short walk from the station.

Sublime Sienna

Right in front of the station was a shopping mall and to enter the city’s historic centre from there we took the escalators in the mall which led us up to even more escalators which finally deposited us close to the ancient city gate.

The gate at the entrance to Siena’s historic centre welcomes visitors

The gate is actually relatively new – built in 1604 after the previous gate (first mentioned in written records in 1082) was destroyed in the siege of 1554/55. On top of the gate are written the following words (in Latin): “Siena opens her heart out to you, wider than the opening of this gate”.

Feeling duly welcomed we strolled through the gate towards the famous shell-shaped Piazza del Campo.

The entrance into the Piazza del Campo

We were surprised to find that to enter the square we had to walk down a fairly narrow flight of stairs with a low-roofed gateway. Stepping through this narrow and quite gloomy entrance (one of seven) to the huge expanse of the light-filled and commanding square was such a surprising contrast it took my breath away.

The spectacular Piazza del Campo

Famous for being the site of the amazing Palio horse race (as featured in the James Bond movie Quantam of Solace) the Piazza del Campo is on a slope (albeit gentle) which was rather surprising.

The iconic Palazzo Pubblico

The graceful Palazzo Pubblico has been the focal point of the square since the Thirteenth Century. On the opposite side of the Palazzo is the beautiful Fonte (fountain) Gaia and all around the edges are scattered many restaurants and wine bars.

The Fonte Gaia

Siena is a wonderful place to stroll round and wherever you go there are stunning renaissance buildings, including the Cathedral, and many eye-catching monuments, statues and of course, lots of people.

Another view from one of the seven entrances into the Piazza del Camp
An amazing ancient split door in Siena
Detail from the Cathedral facade in Siena
Walking round the exterior of the Cathedral
The Cathedral, Siena

According to a legend Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus. When they fled Rome, they took the statue of the She-wolf to Siena, which became a symbol of the town.
Mmmm gelato!

From Siena it was a short drive the following day to nearby Florence where again we were fortunate enough to find a 24 hour parking place suitable for camper vans.

Florence- pretty as a picture

The walk to the glorious, picturesque and photogenic historical centre of Florence was lovely and took us past some beautiful residential villas with fabulous gardens – a very wealthy suburb!

Love the Police uniforms!

We were shocked at the heaving throngs of people in Florence. Of course, it’s always been a great favourite of tourists but this was absolutely on another level. Apparently in recent times thousands of cruise ship passengers have started to be bussed in every day from the port of Livorno. Unfortunately these extra visitors on top of all the other tourists felt just too much for us.

An outdoor restaurant near the Uffizi Gallery

Having said that, we did enjoy a very interesting exhibition in the Palazzo Strozzi. The works displayed were by Andrea Del Verrocchio one of the leading artists of late 15th Century Florence. A painter, sculptor and goldsmith, Verrocchia was a master of an important workshop in Florence where a number of important artists, including a young Leonardo da Vinci were trained.

The Palazzo Stozzi
Verrocchia was especially famous for his beautiful sculptures

We were, of course, also totally entranced by the Cathedral, the Palazzo Pitti, the Ponte Vecchio and all the amazing sights of Florence but really, those crowds were just unbearable.

The Neptune Fountain, Piazza della Signora

Replica of the Statur of David
A couple of Florence’s famous towers – Church of the Badia Florentine and the tower of the National Museum Bargello
Always lovely to see horses
The unique Ponte Vecchio
Basilica of Santa Maria Novella
The Cathedral facade
Hearing the Hare Krishna mantra brought back memories of 1979s London
The oh so stunning Duomo

When the hoarded of people became just too much we headed to the marvellous peace and tranquility of the Boboli Gardens.

On the way to the beautiful Boboli Gardens
Looking over to the Palazzo Pitti from the Boboli Gardens
Walking through the Boboli Gardens

The views from the Boboli Gardens were amazing!

Published by

Salty tales from Bali Hai

In 2015, after a break from cruising of almost 30 years, my husband and I sailed off into the sunset - this time to the wonderful Islands of Indonesia and beyond. Three years passed and we swapped sails for wheels driving through Scandinavia and Europe in a motor home. Now we are on the brink of another adventure - buying a Lagoon 420 Catamaran in Athens. This is our story.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s