Sleepless in Siena


Fatty raindrops fell on a gray stone in the old square. Swords of light penetrated the sky of Cimmerian, illuminating the miserable windows of the medieval buildings shining on us as they encircled the square, and determined our gravelly cocoon. We sat together in a suspicious rest of a dark door, our backs against our bundles, our arms hugging our legs, our expressions dark. We were the only people who were abandoned at night. With a brewing summer storm and dark crawling, I and my husband discovered there was no room at the inn – no inn.

In 1996, we took our first trip to Italy, the journey of long-awaited dreams. Children grew up, attended the dog, watering the plants – it was our turn in the end. Months of research and planning received our departure. We've looked at guides, twisted videos, and websites that have been reviewed. While planning our trip for the "shoulder season", we listened to travel advice: lock out bookings for one night only during the first few nights and make the rest as you go, before contacting two or three days before arrival the next day.

Everything was working smoothly. In the middle of our trip we arrived in Florence, with hotel bookings secured for our stay in that artistic city with a statue. Immediately began to call forward for a short trip in the future to Siena, the medieval jewel of Tuscany. During the next two days, and between the visits of the decadent to David, I called the mind-boggling hours wandering around the Uffizi Gallery, playing the hideout and the statue with the milk marble statues in Boboli Gardens, I called. I asked my way down the pages of each guide in my bag. The same word kept ringing in my sore ears: "completo" – full. Indifferent and optimistic, we have delivered ourselves to destiny. Something will definitely attend. The day of our departure to Siena arrived and we ascended confidently to the "bus route" which would bounce back through the dark green hills, past heavy vineyards by harvest, and take us to our next temporary house.

Emerging from our wheeled cocoon, our first solid steps on cobbled stones in an old street took us back in time. This was medieval Siena, and we were immediately enchanted. However, we still do not stay overnight. We know that we can not give in to the old town until we find a place to set our bags and put our heads. More calls, overheating now. More "completo", sorry but firm. Magic quickly turned to despair, and we got the help of a sympathetic Italian university student using the public telephone next to our phone. "Uno memento" will help us as soon as you finish this one call.

I'm sure she must have read her master thesis for her best friends in Rome, and she seriously criticized every phrase, or perhaps recounted each escape from last year's dramatic college. Ever grateful travelers, we patiently waited to close her Italian monologue. We watched as the sun rose to the horizon, and we bathed the gold over the red brick surfaces. Finally, her call ended and we stopped and went together looking for a room – no room. All completo. After the exchange of apologetic twists and sincere thanks, we separated ways, a serious university student in her familiar and comfortable home, and we did not know her at night.

We surrendered to this unlimited adventure and reviewed our surroundings. Fortunately, we share the base of a single bag, so at least we did not have to walk around in a few practical bags. It was filled with one bag full enough. As the gold in the sky turned slowly into ink, we wandered through the narrow maze of pebbled alleys, the stone walls of muted color that echoed our whispering words. At least this fictional village was empty of cars.

In the end, our sights brought us to the heart of Siena, El Campo, the main square where it is located twice a year at the world-famous Palio, the mad horse race and fierce competition between the neighboring districts of Contrad. Pallio revives the competition that dates back hundreds of years, and puts each team against the other for the honor of owning, reviewing, and boasting the winning Contrada legend about El Campo and across the streets filled with salt. It was hard to imagine the overwhelming crowd chanting to encourage thorny horses and sweating while straining to reach the finish line, where their players competed for first place. Tonight it was no more than a great courtyard, a quiet outdoor living room on an Italian autumn night.

The tourists watched themselves around the Founty of Joy, which is located in a decorative area at the top of the gently sloping, brick-covered slope in the square. University students were sprinkled here and there, putting them on blankets, chatting vigorously, playing guitar quietly. Well, we thought, this sounds attractive. Slightly soothing from the friendly faces, we decided to try to "waste" as much time as possible in a nearby apartment. The Italian habit of eating for a long time and late night suited us was fine. We asked the school-aged waiter if he had been booed, or worse, totally forbidden, "lounging" in the square all night. No, he assured us it was allowed. We went back to the outdoor accommodation and supported our packages and our appearance against that fountain called "Fountain of Joy". We scanned the scene.

No doubt late night revelers wondered why middle-aged tourists were not put in bed. However, we felt comfortable in their presence. We may have been ignored, but we were never threatened, sat down as night approached, and young movies were more entertaining than any television show. The music and the laughter filled the scene until a new sound subsided in non-distant distance: the ominous thunder boom followed by amazing lightning crevices, which stopped our improvised show. The rain started pouring down from the sky of Spaj now, prompting us all to look for cover in the nearby passages that sprang from the square as I spoke of a wheel that had fallen. Despite the increasing concern that rain has brought to our already less idealized plight, our transition to stone tunnels has added a new dimension to this impromptu concert. Ever enthusiasm, the voices of our owners rose unlikely in a song, echoing against the heavy rock walls and creating a resonant harmony that infuriated us. The church choir can not be as stunning.

Hard stone, cold, can not provide comfort for a long time, and eventually, even our tireless parties began to look for comfort at home. Our birthmakers drifted, one by one, until we just left. We carried our bags and went back to the square, and we fell into the doorway of what was a daily job. Tonight our seat was next to the ring on the stage of the night, but all the actors and the public have returned home. While we were thinking about our circumstances, he began to show the special light. Rain allowed, but the air cracked. Suddenly, the lightning lit the sky, and bathed everything in a vibrant light. Over the next few minutes, we dealt with the most breathtaking presentations, rarely seen by those who sit behind them safely. Every time the lightning breaks, the scene breaks out, and the windows of the old medieval buildings light up and burn as if in a horror film. But we are not afraid, and sleep was an unimaginable state. We saw this night scene, feeling like we got a special acceptance in a holy celebration. Then the storm drained, we quietly left the night, not even stones that whisper their secrets to us. We were completely alone.

Carefully wrap the tiny travel towels around our shoulders, and turn us against our packagings for a slight position of rest and drifted away from and to sleep sleeplessly. Every hour or so, the Polizia car was almost blue around the square and started off, as if it were in a caricature. Every time she went through the past, we were fooled, we did not want to appear homeless and move away from our little shelter. But the police did not slow down when we passed, no doubt that we took on what we were: unhappy tourists, less hotel who did not book forward. After we got back from our nap, we heard the quiet movement of the lonely traveler wandering gently across the square. Where did he go? Have you just arrived? It has fallen because the sky has lost the depth of ebony and the morning has become a promise to fulfill soon. The yeast fragrance of fresh bread and sugary cakes fills the fresh air. We stretched.

With the dawn of dawn slowly, the silence and the grumbling of shopkeepers faded. Shop fronts were raised, stones were swept, tables arranged. Soon the aroma of our espresso filled with vitality and reassurance. We have achieved this. The morning arrived. We have risen from our usual breech and have come down to a cafe kissed by the sun, claiming the first outdoor tables. After taking advantage of their facilities, we sipped the cappuccino racket and looked across the square, smiling at the sight of our former nest.

My eyes caught the nearby "del del Mangia" tower, the medieval tower of Siena which rose to the top 100 meters. I suddenly had a desire to climb it. As soon as I opened their doors to visitors today, I hurt myself up, 300 steps, up, and more, parked in the periodic searches to take pictures to prove the moment of madness. Profiles from my husband, impressed by another cappuccino, entered from my point of view. Finally, I reached the top and rewarded Siena's most delightful view, boasting its dusty roofs and busy streets. Satisfied, I have made my way back.

We lifted our bags and explored more of this stunning city in broad daylight. After that, we boarded a bus to the train station and waited to move on to our next adventure – but not before stopping for reservations the next night.


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