Roads Less Travelled

Siena is fantastically warm, mostly with Palio fever: processions, parades, drummers, flag-tossers. Then there are the drawings: for the horses, for the race positions,all of them with that uber-exuberance of the various contrade. I mean, I’m breathless just listing what goes on day and night, and of course I haven’t mentioned the construction. To our NEH group: the bleachers are going up around the Campo, the mattresses are already tied up along the S. Martino curve. We think the dirt for the track will start arriving any day.

The current freneticism of Siena is in glorious juxtaposition to countless places we’ve visited in the past couple of months. We’ve so often been the only ones in a museum, chapel, church, or road, that it’s been like owning the world, or at least a part of it, for awhile.




Breakfast is anytime between 6 (at the apartment) and 8 (on the Campo). Nothing beats getting the best table for cappuccini on the greatest piazza in Italy. Except for those first souvenir stalls rolling in, the place is empty.

When we walked to the bus station one morning, the sidewalk artist was just measuring out his section of sidewalk; we found his chalk “Girl With the Pearl Earring” nearly finished when we returned in afternoon.

Leonardo is in the Cypresses, don’t you think?

We’ve spent time in several hilltowns: Montalcino,Cortona,Pienza, Radicofani,Volterra; at some point during a trek through each one, a top-of-the-world view like this one from Montepulciano appears and more or less nudges my camera out of its case.

We were at Brother Jerome’s place in Vicchio a few days ago.
Alone in the kitchen, Ann is considering what to prepare for breakfast. Eventually, we “prepared” by getting Jerome to take us into town for a morning coffee/pastry.

One of the highlights of our visit was meeting Jerome’s current assistant, young artist, William Massey

In the afternoon, he demonstrated the most recent lesson he’d learned from Jerome.

***************************** POLAND *******************************

We also recently visited Brother Milton in Krakòw, an incredible city worth a re-visit. I took some photographs at Auschwitz-Birkenau, and if you’ve been there, you’ll understand why I won’t be posting any pictures here. Even after years of studying and reading Holocaust literature, I was unprepared for the sheer scale of it all.
Seventy-plus starkly empty chairs in Krakòw: among other things, the monument represents the furniture tossed out of windows and doors by Jews who were being driven from their homes to wait for the trains to Auschwitz and other camps. Just over 56 thousand Jews were living in Krakòw before the war; our guide told us there are now “about 300.”

Returning that evening from Auschwitz to Krakòw, I passed this sign and wondered about the history of the club.

Once again back in Siena, we continue to visit the Campo in the late afternoons: Campari Spritz, very fine.

QUESTION: How do we know this father is Italian?
ANSWER: He talks with his hands!

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeanne Baxter
    Jun 25, 2012 @ 22:30:06

    loved this! Looking forward to seeing you soon!!



  2. Mary Ellen Briel
    Jun 26, 2012 @ 04:38:03

    Thanks, Jean – Palio Fever is heating up this week, so it really is an exciting time. Ann continues to be incredibly diligent about Italian, and I continue to think it a great idea that she is the one studying so hard. She has a short research paper due later this week, and yesterday was “this close” to doing the E. of Ox. controversy. Alas, tell Harry, she decided that even she couldn’t quite wrap her Italian around that one, not this week, anyhow.
    Really looking forward to seeing you both!



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