Today we took a day trip to Siena, traveling on a winding road through the vineyards of Italy. A little known fact is that the hill country used to be full of wheat fields instead of vineyards and olive groves, but because the population was so greatly reduced by the Bubonic Plague, the Italians didn’t need to provide for the masses and could produce more expensive foods instead.
There are also many churches in Siena. One is famous for having the body of Saint Catherine. There is an altar and area for prayer. Behind the altar is a small shrine dedicated to Saint Catherine, along with her mummified head. It was almost creepy, but the head was extremely well preserved.
Another important thing about churches from the Middle Ages was that they had huge towers to store grain. They competed to have the tallest tower so that they could become the most important building in town. So therefore if the town caught on fire but the church was saved, everyone would still have food to eat.
Siena is also known for its horse racing. They have an annual race that’s run right in the center of town. The race is called the Palio. They have been run since the Middle Ages. The city is split into 17 neighborhoods, and every neighborhood puts one horse in the race. It is a huge event and they spend the whole year preparing. The race is run bare back, no saddles. People die in the race. The race was on July 6th, and this year, the Goose neighborhood won.
Discover our Summer Programs in Italy here