Trying to decide where to go each weekend is hard when you have so many amazing options! I knew I wanted to stay close to Florence, but I didn't know where to go... Naples, Milan,Venice...Hmmm... The options were endless! Thanks to my awesome roommate, Becca, and the tantalizing description of Rick Steves, myself and 5 other girls decided to go to Siena, the heart of Tuscany! We had planned to go to San Gimignano (try to pronounce that one and sound pretty, its hard to do!) and Siena, both in one weekend, but because of crazy confusing bus schedules we settled on Siena for Saturday and Sunday. Not a bad decision at all!
The bus ride to Siena was uneventful other than being full of other American University students. There is something so comforting about understanding others' conversations, even if you aren't apart of them. Otherwise I just think they are talking about me... Paranoid? Maybe, but its still a reasonable thought.
We got to Siena and strolled through its wonderful, pedestrian friendly streets all day long. The weather was perfect for a tour of town so we took advantage of it. We spend a lot of time at Il Campo, which is basically a huge town square. It was great for people watching. We played a new game called "Guess the Americans." Basically you just try to guess who is an American tourist. Sadly, it's pretty easy. There were also a few weddings that day and the wedding parties were celebrating in the square so we got to join in their joyous celebration. They know how to celebrate!
A lot of the day we employed church hopping between Santa Maria Provenza (where a statue of Mary is kept that has many conversions attributed to it), San Domenico (where the in-corrupt head of St. Catherine of Siena is kept. Pretty crazy stuff!), and the Basilica di San Francesco (more on this later). There were a few other smaller churches but those were the main ones.
We wanted to take advantage of the fact that we were in the heart of wine country, and go wine tasting! Unfortunately, our original plan of visiting a vineyard, didn't pan out, but we were able to taste 6 different flavors of olive oil (truffle was everyone's favorite), and visit a wine bar where we tasted different wines from the local area and Italy in general. They were so good! We are all excited for school trip to go wine tasting. Hopefully we will learn more about the art of wine tasting then!
One of Becca's friends told her to visit the Basilica di San Francesco, and to see the Eucharistic Miracle that is kept there. I was pretty excited to see it, but didn't know how we would be able to see it. Her friend told us we would have to ask the priest if we could see it and then maybe he would let us see it. So Sunday morning we got up early and headed off to the basilica for mass. We arrived at the church an hour early because yours truly messed up the mass times =] but we got extra time for prayer before mass so that's always good, right?
During mass I was getting nervous thinking about asking the priest to see the Eucharistic Miracle. What if he said no? What if he didn't understand what we were saying?... All this was cycling through my head as I was trying to concentrate on translating the mass into English. Needless to say, I wasn't doing a very good job.
Well, I had no need to worry, because, to my great surprise, at the end of mass Father set up adoration on the altar for the whole congregation to adore the Eucharistic Miracle! It was incredible! I didn't know much about the miracle before, but afterwards I read more about it. It is truly incredible! If you check out the link above you can learn more! The short version is they are 230 consecrated hosts from 282 years ago! Crazy! I love being Catholic! It was a beautiful start to the day and end to the weekend.
Here are some (ok ok, a lot of) pictures from out time in Siena.
|House in Siena where I would be Ok living someday. Rooftop garden: Check!|
|This isn't Siena, just a beautiful sunset in Florence on Friday evening that I wanted to share! Enjoy God's splendor!|
|The many levels and colors of Siena|
|We stumbled upon and Classic Car Parade in Il Campo.|
|One of the 4 couples that we saw getting married on Saturday! Wedding bells were ringing everywhere!|
|More classic Cars...|
|Me and the girls (minus Becca) next to the well that was here when St. Catherine lived here. The newer parts of St. Catherine's house were built around it.|
|Courtyard outside of St. Catherine's Sanctuary.|
|St. Catherine's room and a statue of her.|
|Amazing views of Siena everywhere!|
|Kendra and I enjoying Apertivo (happy hour)! Lovin' Siena night life =]|
|Night out on the town!|
|Adoration with Eucharistic Miracle! The True Presence!|
|An adorable mom and daughter enjoying lunch on Il campo this Sunday afternoon.|
|Night view of San Domenica. The city at night takes on a new character.|
|Enjoying the views of Siena all lit up.|
|Our cute hotel located right next to St. Catherine's house.|
|The outside of the Basilica di San Francesco, where the Eucharistic Miracle is kept.|
Overall, I have such a love for St. Catherine and all she did for the Church. I really want to learn more about her now. Also, I love the colorfulness of Siena and the lively atmosphere. It was a young city that was enjoying life and the traditions that have been passed on for generations and generations.
Another weekend is gone, and only 8 more to go! Crazy how time flies when you are having fun!
God's love and blessings for you and your families!