Tuscany! If you've ever been you know how beautiful it is and if you haven't you've heard of it. Sitting in a train going through the gorgeous country, wistfully daydreaming of wine and pleasantries with local Italians.
We had only been in Rome for about 8 hours before heading off to our set location of Siena, which we would be staying to see the Palio horse races for the duration of our stay. Our hostel was a little bit out of the city but the walk wasn't bad, despite the blisters I had on my feet (from the trip thus far) that would tell you differently.
Getting into the city was easy and we always had a way of going in through the same entrance, because the whole city center is walled off, we would go through the porcupine or Istrice gate.
There are 17 different contrades of Siena, which represent different sectors of the city, only 10 of which compete in the Palio (which is a 3 day event).
Everyone from our group chose which contrade they would root for. I chose the wave or Onda, although I bought scarves of a couple different ones as well.
The race was help in the center of the city, in Il Campo, which is an amazing city center where they block everyone in the middle and tie ropes and bring in dirt for the horses and their jockeys to run on.
The have parades and sing, wave flags and such before the race starts every day and then they're off! I think the winner while we were there for the whole race was the forest contrade or Selva.
It was more than a site to see and to witness this amazing event I had never even heard of until signing up for this trip.
We definitely also had our bundle of crazies within the crowd as well. We had some Canadians next to our group who had been drinking a lot (and don't get me wrong, I love Canadians!) but they don't let you out of the center once the race starts, because you'd have to go across the track and one of the girls really had to pee.
So in her state of mind, she just peed right then and there, in the center, near enough to get it on some of our groups backpacks... It was pretty gross. Thankfully not my backpack but hey, our leaders took care of it and almost got into a fist fight with the guys in their group.
Lots of yelling, it was hot, and we didn't like our stuff getting peed on. So I get it!
Anyways, even with that little set back, we had a great time. We got to see the Siena Cathedral, Duomo, which was beautiful. My friend and I had to wear little disposable skirts to cover our legs, but it was well worth it.
We also took a day trip to San Gimignano, which was awesome. Going up and getting a great view of their city from a tall lookout. Getting some of "The Worlds Greatest Gelato" which was pretty darn good (but I love gelato, so I'd like it anywhere).
I would definitely recommend a trip there if you've ever thought about it. There is a lot to see and do there, although be careful, it's easy to get turned around with all the twists and turns of the paths. There's also a lot of nice places to go in and use the restroom, without having to pay.
They also had great doner kebabs, which is one of my favorite easy fast food from Europe, so delicious!
On the way out of the city, we did make a quick stop in Pisa (which had my favorite doner kebabs of the trip!) and see the Leaning Tower. It was fun to sit and reflect and to see all the tourists "pushing" the tower in their pictures.
All in all, Italy has been one of my favorite places to travel to. The country is gorgeous, the people are mostly friendly and they have great food and places to see!
I will be writing about my favorite place in the world (so far) next week and hopefully making a post about how I pack my perfect carryon bag for my trip next week!
Cheers and safe travels!