Tuesday, 26 September 2006

More Siena

Right, back from the last day of talks.

Yet again, many good talks. After a good lunch I wandered out to the local church. Chris had already been in there and seen among the paintings and statues something that looked like a body.

Yup, it’s a body.

Met a number of people in there too, including one of the ‘faculty’ from the meeting. Ilpo Huhtaniemi has an amazing name as well as an amazing understanding of LHR receptors.

So that’s it. Done. We have to spend the day tomorrow finding interesting things and making our way to Pisa for the return flight, which we are both ready for. Chris is ‘cultured out’ and doesn’t want to see another painting of horrid things being done to people, either in the name of religious belief or because it’s a good ancient classical story. She’s also been a bit perturbed by the fascination with displaying parts of dead people. Without wishing to go into detail here, there seems so much mythology and simply bizarre (pagan?) practice mixed up in Roman Catholicism that it’s hard not to see it as a sect, and certainly not the ‘one true church’. All this kind of stuff is kept at a low level in the UK and maybe north America too. And you thought Olsteen, McClaren and Wimber were odd?

So home soon, and not too soon really. It’s a beautiful city on the outside, but you get the feeling there’s less pleasant things underneath. You need to be here to feel it. Having typed this I almost feel threatened here – probably a sign of an over-active imagination coupled to a need to go find dinner in a city that speaks a different language.


Back from dinner.

Tip for Johanna if she ever comes through Italy: don’t eat the ‘menu touristas’. Our final meal here was back at the first restaurant we ate in, and had the best food we’d enjoyed here and they had what *looked* to be a great offer. Emphasis on the word looked.

Tomorrow we want to be up early so we can visit the Wednesday market. Then we’ll head off to Pisa.

It’s funny how after a while you start to notice things about a place. Like the streets here are covered in faeces and rubbish (this is Chris’s observation – she’s spent much more time outside than me). But the city is too crowded for dogs, and in the centre there are no green public places at all, so they just go in the middle of the pavement. And birds have no care about where they go anyway. Plus every day seems to be rubbish collection day, so there is refuse in all sorts of places. Adds to the authentic medieval air, but it sure isn’t attractive. They scrub the pavements with a mobile scrubber every day too, so it’s not lack of effort on the part of the city.

We’re about to go to bed, but while I’ve been typing this I’ve had the TV on. They have the selection of Miss Italia happening right now, with voting by telephone. Now Italian girls are rather spectacular in what passes for fully clothed here: plunging necklines go down a long way, and the legs are generally long and shapely. But somehow 100 girls in minimal bikinis walking and gyrating in front of an audience seems neither quite right, nor either exotic or erotic. Just a bit boring actually – now how sad is that!.

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