MNB 01 - 23 - 2010

Jan 23 Today was one of those on the go days, where you pack your day pack with everything that you will need during the day, because you will not have an access to you bag. In the morning we left Florence and got to Rome in the evening with stops in San Gimignano and Siena along with amazing views onto the Italian countryside through the window of our bus. San Gimignano was a very interesting city that talks about the character of the powerful families in the past. This city has many tall towers that are parts of the houses of those families. The towers were not only used as protective elements in order to see the enemies approaching the city, but also as show off elements to see which family has the tallest tower. This is humorous to see how heads of the households used to compete who has a bigger one back in the Middle Ages as they do now with houses, cars, boats, you name it. The excitement element is added to the towers by the structure of the city. It is a medieval city with narrow curving streets. Every once in a while when you walk down one of those streets you get a glimpse of another tower in front of you. The most memorable part of San Gimignano, though, is that it showed me the picture perfect Italian landscape, the one you can see on the olive oil bottles. Surrounding the city are hills with houses here and there with fields and olive tree groves. The view was so perfect, it seemed un real and painted on a piece of canvas somewhere in the distance. Siena was very interesting as well. You can feel the topography in that city much better than in any other we've been so far. Some of the streets can easily compete with the ones in San Francisco. I actually heard one American girl complain that it was too hard walking around in that city and her friends were comforting her that Florence is going to be better. If I recall correctly, though, that girl was wearing high heels, so she brought that misfortune upon herself. Anyway, I cannot imagine how can anyone parallel park his/her car on such a street, that is just miracle for me. As we walked around the city I have noticed some contemporary construction. It was quite and did not jump out at you like some many other new buildings do. The new buildings in Siena used the same bricks as the buildings around it, the finishing detail that made those buildings be so quite is smearing the leftover mortar on top of the facade to eliminate the new building look. That was a very respectful move towards the historic city by the architect. On the way from Siena to Rome we stopped at some place that had bathrooms. At first it looked like a warehouse area. When we walked in it looked like a supermarket. There were so many FREE samples of chocolates, olive oils, souses, vinegars, cheeses, dried tomatoes, hand creams and other it was crazy. All of us went nuts for the free snack that we could get, the owner of the place were not too thrilled to see college students there, but what can they do, we are in a democratic country. That was the best rest stop I have ever been in. So now we are in Rome. It is very surreal. I have already seen the Coliseum, Trajan's Forum and Trevi Fountain. Something that I have studies for so long and seen on photos and postcards is actually in front of me and I can sit back and look at it in real life while enjoying gelato. It doesn't get much better than this. I am looking forward to spending the next few days in this ancient, yet contemporary city. The image on the top: the Italian lanscape The image on the bottom: street in San Gimignano

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