Day trips to Siena and Fiesole (bundled up with short excursions in town, and an extended amount of walking time) have been overwhelming, rewarding and tiring. In short, they have worn TC and me out. The last I heard, TC was suffering from a mysterious ailment that he terms as ‘the flu’. 24 -48 hours later with a wham-bam headache, sore throat (TC also says that is probably not caused by his snoring) and a fickle head that decides on a whim when to function, we are still awaiting the verdict on his recovery.
Fabled for its legendary romantic location, Tuscany is expected to evoke emotions buried deep with the urbanite. TC, in his abrupt identification of several phallic symbols in our 4 days here (pears in a supermarket, pasta, the table lamp of all things…), shot all those romantic notions down with that observation.
But we covered both Siena and Fiesole. Both places after which having been experienced can make one understand why numerous odes and artworks of which Tuscany has exclusively been the source of inspiration.
Falsely reassured by TC’s constant insistence that he felt chipper, we tried for Fiesole under the Tuscan rain, an Etruscan town 8km uphill and northeast of Florence, and hopped immediately back onto the bus when the rain got even heavier. But we returned 2 days later, this time under the full glory of the Tuscan sun, and walked ourselves crazy downhill.
Our visit to Siena’s imposing town began on the other hand, with a jaunt with the slow SITA bus through the countryside via a cutely named village called Poggibonsi. Built around the fan-shaped Piazza del Campo, Florence’s archrival medieval powerhouse rolls and spills over the undulating hills, and is typically postcard material for clueless tourists, flourishing now primarily I suspect, because of this very trade. The irony of the town lies in Siena’s decline after its medieval boom – who would have thought that the lack of funds that served as Siena’s barriers to modern town reconstruction is the very source of its fame?
Again, we made a fool out of ourselves through one of the picturesque walks recommended in a brochure and because of the lack of appropriate signage at strategic points, ambled instead into the backroom of a university’s electrical laboratory, before walking across a grass patch to wind up in someone’s farm facing a couple of curious donkeys and cackling chickens.
All that uphills must have done some justice to our fitness levels – or, TC’s fitness level at least.