Stopover in Siena
Siena was a rather last-minute addition to our itinerary and unlike Rome, Florence, Pompeii, or other Italian cities, I came knowing very little of its interesting history.
Siena is divided into seventeen Contradas, districts in English. Each area has its own flag, light post, and animal to represent it. The districts have existed since the Middle Ages and today are most commonly used in the Palio di Siena. The Palio di Siena is a horse race held twice every summer, July 2 and August 16, around the Piazza del Campo.
The Duomo di Siena became one of my favourite cathedrals due to the ornate ceilings, night sky theme throughout the floor and ceiling patterns, and the amazing library attached to the side with numerous Medieval manuscripts on display!
Siena is geographically quite close to Florence and takes on a lot of the same architecture and scenery. It was a slightly smaller, slightly less touristy version of Florence but still with its own unique flair.
From there we intended to go to Cinque Terre, but the Trenitalia strike stranded us in Florence two days early. Though I really wanted to go to Cinque Terre because it was one of the only new cities for me on the trip, Florence is a great place to be stranded and I will talk about it in my next post. I am also working on an informative post about travelling Trenitalia.
This was my second time in Pompeii, but I was only there for a couple of hours last time, so this time the goal was to see more of the ruins. We booked a tour through Pompeii Private Tours and began to explore the ruins just after opening, when it was already hot and crowded but slightly less so than it would be later in the day!
Since we were such a small group, we were able to go inside many of the houses closed to larger groups, including two that had just opened to the public within two weeks of our visit!
Our guide told us that daily life really hasn't changed all that much since the days of the Roman Empire and in certain buildings, that was really recognizable. For example, the building below was a women's dressing room for the saunas. You can even see the spot for their equivalent of lockers!
Another interesting area was the laundry room. They had a system rather similar to modern day dry cleaners, where they would leave their clothes to be washed and dried. In the tub below, slaves would stand in the water, stamping the clothing to clean it.
We also saw a sports facility where they would swim or run laps. Along the walls after we first got in the city were little child-like carvings of ships and animals. These were indeed created by children who used stone as a medium prior to the invention of construction paper and crayons.
One of the coolest parts of the trip was the amphitheater, which is still used for concerts occasionally! Across the streets from the amphitheater were little restaurants where people would go after the show. The holes in the table was where the food was served.
Mt. Vesuvius is the most-watched volcano on the planet and has erupted numerous times over the centuries. However, scientists believe that in forty-five years, Vesuvius will have another massive eruption, even worse than the one in 79 AD, because the cone of the volcano is now split in two and will result in double the devastation.
Speaking of Mt. Vesuvius, the entire time we were in Pompeii, we could smell smoke and see the haze on the horizon. I was reminded of the wildfires I've witnessed in Colorado. I had hopes of climbing Mt. Vesuvius, but wasn't keen on getting too close to the wildfire, so instead I went back to Capri, another destination that I visited last year.
I took my friend back to the handmade sandal shop that I visited last time. I told them that I still have and wear my sandals and showed the non-English speaking elderly shoemaker the photo of us from last year. They seemed so excited! If you're ever in Capri, be sure to check out Il Sandalo Caprese.
The last ferry to Sorrento (from where we planned on catching a train) left far earlier than we were ready to go so intentionally missed the boat. We sat at a beach-side restaurant called Lo Smeraldo and tried to figure out the best way back to Pompeii. The workers were incredibly helpful and told us that our only option was really the ferry to Naples, but cautioned us about taking trains in Naples after dark, saying to "remove jewelry, cell phones, and even sunglasses" from eyesight. When my friend asked what happened there after dark, no one would answer and repeatedly warned up to just be careful. So we decided not to risk the train and as soon as the boat docked, promptly ran to a taxi.
After that, it was time to stop testing our luck around active volcanoes and dangerous cities and head north to the Tuscan region.
Hi, I’m Crystal! I love to travel and am currently a graduate student in Scotland. You’ll get all the best tips and insights from my experiences as a former ice-skating coach in Iceland and former study abroad student. Of the 27 countries I have visited, a type 1 diabetes diagnosis has been the strangest land yet. Type 1 has not slowed down my travels and you'll learn how to take type 1 with you on the road! You can connect with me further on Instagram @CrystalChilcott, or send me ideas of where I should travel next via email: firstname.lastname@example.orgHappy Travels, Crystal
What am I up to today? Check out my Instagram feed below to find out!