Arezzo: Day 11

Arezzo: Day 11

We left Arezzo for Siena the next morning bright and early, where we visited the church of St. Catherine. This Franciscan church upheld the common theme between all Franciscan-style churches we had seen thus far, as in the style was quite plain, with little stained glass and not a lot of light coming into the church. However, the thing that made this Franciscan church unique was the display of St. Catherine’s head and thumb. Kirk had explained to us how the people of Siena had stolen her head and thumb from Rome, and when they left the city gates, the bag in which her remains were stored was checked by Roman officials. One of the miracles that St. Catherine had performed then took place; her remains turned into very flagrant flowers when the bag was checked, so the people of Siena were able to take her remains back to the city. Knowing all of this story made it so much more impactful to see when we walked up to the display. Following our walk inside the church, we walked through the Duomo of Siena, which resembled the Duomo in Florence. Kirk went on to explain that Florence responded economically to events such as the Black Plague much better than Siena, so their Duomo was thus completed faster and is larger than the Duomo in Siena. Though we did not get to walk inside the Duomo in Florence, we got to see the Duomo in Siena from the inside, and I was amazed at how different it was than how I imagined it would be. The large columns almost reminded me of candy canes, but instead of red stripes, they were a sort of basalt-black color. I was overwhelmed by the recurring gold, black, and marble I saw just about everywhere I looked. This church really surprised me by its hidden grandeur, as I would not have really expected the inside of the church to be this nice.

After the Duomo, a group of us ate at an authentic Sienese restaurant that served pici, which is thicker spaghetti-like noodle, with wild boar meat sauce, or cinghiale. Kirk said that this dish is unique to Siena, so I was all in to try it. Needless to say, as I really had not eaten a bad meal in Italy, this pasta and meat sauce was the best pasta and meat sauce combination I had had in Italy. Though I find it difficult to not like a pasta dish, this meal was especially memorable.

A torrential downpour started right as we finished our meal, so we met up with the rest of our group and walked back to our bus for a 3 1/2 hour bus ride to Rome. Sadly, this was the one day I left my rain jacket on the bus, so I was thoroughly soaked by the time we made it to the bus. The views on the bus ride through the Tuscan countryside and into Lazio, the region in which Rome is found, was beautiful. There were so many rolling hills mixed with flat farm fields, and the occasional small city. I found this ride to be a great dichotomy to the city that we were about to enter: Rome. Upon arrival, I was impressed by the structure and organization of the city and its streets.

Our entire PCS group went to our Rome welcome dinner after settling into our hotel rooms. This meal entailed three courses, the first consisting of rigatoni and meat sauce, steak and green beans, and a sort of strawberry shortcake. And with that meal completed, our first night in Rome had come to an end.

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