Yesterday we arrived quite late at Sienna and since we stay here only one night we took a hotel. It turns out to be the comparatively most expensive hotel (considering the little quality we get) we have ever been (hotel Athene at Sienna). Even the buffet breakfast doesn't provide us with anything tasteful and the coffee is the worst we have ever had until now in Italy. We better go off, into the center for a real Italian cappucino.
Building cathedrals is an Italian speciality, since even the smallest towns have often more than one in the medieval town centers. The Duomo of Sienna is richly decorated on the outside and even more in the inside; of course there are also some art treasures from the Renaissance.The center of Sienna still radiates a medieval atmosphe and since there are much less tourists than at Florence it is a nicer place to be. But the narrow streets with the old and high buildings on both sides are accessible to traffic and especially truck traffic can be very annoying.
We sit down at one of the many outdoor bars on the Il Campo, the center square of van Sienna (according to our travel guide the most beautiful square of Italy, but we don't really agree with that), to have our first nice coffee. The weather is great, much warmer than the last few days and we enjoy sitting here for an hour or so.Twice a year the Palio is held here, a horserace which lasts only 90 seconds and is broadcasted live on local television; there doesn't seem to be much space for a race with 10 horses at the same time...
On the square is a pool with statues of Maria and of course people throw money into it and make a wish. When we wonder out loud what would happen if we climb over the fence to fish the money out of the water, a man addresses us in Dutch, telling us we can take his place in the front so we can take better pictures. The pigeons on the picture to the right share our lack of respect, as you can see.
To the right side of the semicircle square is the townhall and the Torre del Mangia. The tower has 503 steps and can be climbed, but not by us, not today. It is after noon and we want to see a bit more today. The plan is to drive through the interior of Italy to San Marino (so we can add a new country to our list) and then quietly go southwards to Rome.But 10 km. before Arezzo we hear strange noises: is the road very bad here, or do we have a flat tire? There just happens to be a parking place along the road (the only one for kilometers) and when we look it turns out to be a quickly deflating tire. The spare tire is obviously hidden beneath all our luggage and soon the parking lot is covered with our bags and stuff. While we replace the tire, a second car stops, also with a flat tire. Coincidence or is it something on the road?
At a snail's pace we drive towards Arezzo (since the spare is also almost empty), but all service stations that we see are closed. We find a gas station where still someone is present and he explains that all shops are closed between 1 and 3. We can leave the tire and pick it up again at half past 3. So we drive into the city and sit in the sun, having a drink and reading a bit. Arezzo is not really offering many interesting things to see, so we have a relaxing afternoon, although we can forget our plan. We decide first go to Rome and visit San Marino on the way back when we leave Italy.
The flat tire is not really leak but has deflated through the valve. It costs us € 5 and we can drive on. The route to the campsite at Rome is fairly easy, but with the Italian signposting more nuanced than we thought. Still, we arrive there without taking one false turn. The campsite is near the ringroad and 15 minutes by bus from the center.
It is still early when we arrive and too hot to put up the tent, so we start having a cold drink at the restaurant, outside of course. In our campsite this camping is described as shady and green, and although there are small trees enough with leaves, the ground is all made up of gravel. The quietness of the campsite is spoiled by a busy road, but we get used to that soon enough.We are here to see Rome, not just for fun... are we? No problem, we have no problem enjoying ourselves when we are on holiday. But next week we have promised ourselves a few quiet days, somewhere near a nice beach. First we have some more culture to see.