Another weekend spent in another Italian city. This weekend in the calendar I was off to Siena with my travelling art history class.
This class really is a great deal; we only meet for an hour before we depart and see the art the city has to offer. So, if we discuss the Siena Duomo in class and all the history of it, bam! There it is right in front of us!
Can you imagine if every class was like that! It’s a set-up that obviously works in Italy with a survey of Italian art class, but I understand that it might be a bit tricky to pull off back in the States. I don’t think three credits for like $20,000 would fly.
But, no matter, it works here and I was in Siena!
Siena is a stunning little Italian city and just perfect for a day trip if you’re ever in the area, especially for those looking for a realistic backdrop for some Medieval cosplay outfit. The city looks untouched, like nothing has changed since around the 14th century.
Which is quite historically accurate, as Siena was a flourishing, prosperous city for many years…but oh rats, did the black plague do some damage!
Damage that the city would never recover from, and damage that you can actually see while visiting!
We’re all standing around looking at the crown gem of the Siena landscape: the green and white striped Siena Duomo. Hey-oh, would you look at that? It was quite literally left unfinished. There’s gaps where the white and green marble should continue as exposed brick peeks out behind the structure. History right before our eyes!
It really doesn’t matter that the Duomo isn’t finished, as the inside bit, which you can enter as a museum, is decorated to the nines, teeming with glitz and glam from floor to ceiling. Even the floor tiles we were walking on were cordoned off as works of art. Mosaic work that sparkles in the light, pairing beautifully with this large scale scratched in designs called “Graffiti.” Which comes from the Italian word graffiato, which means to scratch. Fun fact to take home!
You know these floors were particularly special if I mentioned them before the two great artists’ work displayed in the Duomo, as both Donatello and Michelangelo have work featured throughout. A sculpture of Saint John the Baptist from Donatello and then a couple smaller statues from a young Michalengelo act as just the icing on the cake!
And then we went and got lunch! Could this day get any better?
It really could’ve gotten better, if we’re being completely honest, as on our last art history field trip I found a very friendly stray cat under a car. That was fun. But, okay, this lunch was free and bottles of red wine were included in our lunch experience. So, after re-evaluating… I’m totally not complaining!
It put us all in just the perfect brain wave setting to see the head of Catherine of Siena.
Seriously. I kinda forgot relics were a thing in Catholicism, but there I was standing in front of her incredibly little head and asking my friend, “Wait… are those her teeth?”
A moment I’ll probably eventually forget. Until one day, years from now, when someone random will mention Saint Catherine’s head in Siena and everything will fall into place as the repressed memories of this experience will come flooding back.