Sunday, June 18th (Happy Father's Day!)

What a really great day it was today!  We left Florence at 9:00 am to go via charter bus to Siena.  It is only about an hour away from Florence.  The landscape of the area is very different from Assisi or even Sperlonga.  It has more rolling hills (like Rome) and in a lot of areas reminded me of Cincinnati- more deciduous trees and wooded areas.  Siena is a walled city set on the top of a hill.  It was a beautiful 82 degrees today with barely a cloud in the sky.  The weather couldn't have been better.  I can't believe it happened, but it did not rain the entire 21 days that I have been here.  It was great for me, but unfortunate for the area. The only use my umbrella played was to shade me from the sun.

I think peaceful and contemplative would be the best words to describe today.  Right off the bus Professor Colella gave us a brief history of Siena.  I had no idea how interesting the history of the city is.  We started by walking up the hill (the first of many, many steep hills) to the Church dedicated to Saint Catherine of Siena, where both her head and finger are displayed.  Remember her body is in Rome.  I visited that one this past Thursday.  I was lucky enough to be able to go to mass at noon in the crypt of the church.  The mass was all in Italian, but I was able to follow along and respond because they had a paper that had everything in Italian.  After all the running we have been doing it was really lovely to just sit and reflect and quietly take in the last three weeks.

After the mass I was able to wander the streets and alleys of Siena.  The winding and very steep alleyways and panoramic views seemed to be everywhere.  Please see the pictures under the AP Studio Art tab.  I came across a flea market where they were selling old antiques, jewelry and old postcards; a variety of really cool shops and one very cool surprise.  Prof. Colella told us that if we hear drums to follow them.  I did hear drums, so I did follow them and this is what I found...see pictures.  A contrada (plural: contrade) is a district, or a ward, within an Italian city. The most well-known contrade are probably the 17 contrade of Siena. Each is named after an animal or symbol, and each has a long history and complicated heraldic and semi-mythological associations.  They also celebrate births, marriages, and even deaths by marching through their neighborhood in traditional garb with a drum line and the family following behind in a procession.  I was lucky enough to see one today.  It was fantastic!  

Before I knew it, it was time to leave.  It took about 3 hours to get back to Rome.  I have started to pack, but I wanted to finish this last post before I got everything together.  I can't believe I am leaving tomorrow morning.  I have had the most wonderful experience here.  It has broadened my own worldview and reignited my creative mind.  Now I have to start thinking about venturing into the next step of the process.  I have quite a few sketches and tons of pictures.  Over the next two months I will complete 6-9 pieces that will be part of the "Art in Rome" gallery show at Xavier in the late fall.  I'm nervous and excited at the same time.   So much inspiration has come from the trip.  I just need to decide how to pick what inspiration to use.

I probably will have one more post after I get home to wrap up with some final thoughts.  Hopefully, none of them will be about missing my connections on the way home!  I won't deny that was one of the things I was praying for today at church.   

Thanks so much for following me on this wonderful adventure!  I hope you got something out of it, other than not to ride the 913 bus while in Rome!  Buona Notte!