#3 Italy, May 26, 2001
Siena was our next destination, a lovely town that was a powerhouse a few centuries back, competing with Florence. We cappuccino-ed on the way, parked, then walked to the 13th century church with its 10 frescos by Pinturicchio from 1509. The painter had included himself in each fresco, which we had fun ferreting out. We continued to the Piazza del Campo, where they have the Palio (a horserace) twice a year, that has been going on since the 1200s. Some shopping and some museum-ing rounded out Siena.
We proceeded up the mountains to Castelini del Chianti to find the Olive Garden Restaurant/Cooking School that Ruth’s friend’s son had attended. We arrived to find them closed, but they made an exception
for us and served us a lunch during a thundershower.
A rest from some driving—-exploring Partina. While it is a tiny village, there are many things to see and do here. One thing we did was hang some framed pictures of Piero della Francesca’s wonderful Arezzo murals over our davenport. This was a special thing as when Roberto and Claire first met in Florence in 1993, their first date was to view these murals in Arezzo in the Church of San Francisco.
Exploring the tiny castle—-the outside anyway—-it is owned by a family from Rome; visiting Roberto’s mother’s grave in the Partina cemetery and walking across the tiny river that runs through Partina while viewing the back of the 16th century church were some of the things to do in Partina.
We went to L’Orchello at Talla for lunch and stopped at Socana to see a 600 BCE Etruscan altar.
We all got acquainted with Roberto’s sister and family, Roberta, Paolo, Mateo and Martina and invited them, along with Roberto’s father, Vivaldo, to an ‘American Brunch’ one Saturday morning. We served freshly squeezed orange juice, fruit, scrambled eggs, sausages, popovers, and coffee, with Marilyn’s banana bread for dessert, which was the biggest hit. The Italians do not eat breakfast like this, so I’m sure they thought it was pretty weird! Since none of them spoke any English and Susan and I only spoke a few words of Italian, communication was difficult but not impossible!
That afternoon we drove the short distance to Camoldoli, an 11th century monastery started by St. Ramould.