The title, in Italian, means “Let’s take a walk.” It’s definitely something that I’ve been doing a lot since I got here. Taking a walk isn’t something that I do a lot back home, not something I’d do to get to places- but here in Siena (and other cities in Italy that I’ve visited so far), it has become my favorite means of transportation. One main reason is that it’s super economical, AKA free. But another reason is the things you see, or bump into, along your way: the interesting stores and alleys, unexpected opening between the buildings with a beautiful view, random artworks on the streets, a parade of people from the contrada marching in medieval costumes, vibrant markets, etc etc.
Siena is particularly fun to walk around, with little “vicolo” or small streets, random openings in between the buildings with amazing views, and very interesting buildings with medieval architecture all over the town. The town is located on a series of hills, which sometimes makes it more like an exercise than a casual walk. But these so-called “struggles” make it even more worth it when you discover something beautiful!
One of my favorite views is on a hill near the Basilica of San Domenico. I was just wandering around a small alley next to the church after attending mass, when I saw that there was a pizzeria that my friend had recommended to me the day before. I decided to walk up the alley to check out the menu of the pizzeria, and as I walked along the street, I reached an open area with three restaurants on the right side, and a beautiful view on my left! I could see the black and white stripes of the Duomo, the tower at the main piazza, and basically most of the historic center of Siena!
Other than Siena, I’ve also had the opportunities to travel to a couple other cities in Italy, like Florence, Venice, Padua, Rome, and San Gimignano. I did visit some museums and saw a lot of beautiful art–especially in Florence and Rome! I was overwhelmed with joy as I saw the works of the Renaissance masters like Michelangelo’s Pieta, Raphael’s School of Athens, Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation; and also the magnificent Baroque sculptures and monuments by Bernini all over Rome! Being an art history nerd, I couldn’t stop smiling as I walked through the Piazza San Pietro in Vatican, and also the galleries at the Uffizi and the Vatican Museum. These artworks–and my weekend in each cities–need another separate blog post, as they were just so amazing.
But other than the beautiful artworks in the museum, I also enjoyed walking around the cities, where I was able to people watch, wander around the streets and shops, marvel at the buildings with medieval, venetian, or classical architecture. In Padua (one of my favorite cities so far!), for example, the vibrant energy of the young people and modern shops blend well with the renaissance buildings, the charming roman porticoes, the spacious piazzas, canals and bridges around the city.
Walking around, I discover a little bit more about each of the cities. In some ways, the cities are like artworks themselves, the works of urbanization from many years ago which are well-preserved, beautiful piazzas and green parks with buildings carved surrounding it, cobble-stone streets lining around it, with blocks of sunlight going in between the trees and buildings. These “passeggiate” that I took around each cities reminded me of my art history class last semester, where my professor talked about the urbanization in Rome and other cities in Italy in the past- he more or else said that the process of urbanization is like carving a space with the buildings and monuments, creating a livable area for the people. I could truly understand and appreciate what he was talking about, as I walked through the colonnades, along the rivers and canals, or sat down at a piazza.