Howard W. Hewitt, Siena, Italy – Our Sunday in Siena with Wabash alumni, retired faculty, and staff revolves around one of the world’s great cathedrals and this charming city’s unique traditions.
We spent the morning in the the Pinacoteca art museum looking at how art was used in the church to teach lessons. We moved on to the recently discovered crypt of the Cathedral and will be back there Sunday afternoon and Monday.
- The Contrada flag bearer came in all ages. When the large group arrived in the Piazza they did a full routine with their drummers.
Before breaking for three hours at mid-day, we witnessed Contrada del Drago’s baptism ceremony. A contrada is one of 17 Siena neighborhoods and they take this all quite seriously. Drago is celebrating its festival with colorful parade through town and a non-secular baptism
Sunday afternoon was spent in Siena’s spectacular cathedral. We toured the Baptistry afterwards and then headed to the Campo..
We joined with probably 15,000-20,000 locals in the Campo for final drawings to see which Contrada’s horses will be allowed to race in this summer’s famous Palio horse race. It really was qutie an experience with pomp and ceremony.
The drawing takes place in the famed City Hall. Trumpeters announce each dramatic decision. then a flag is unfurled out a window to determine a neighborhoods fate and participation in the race.
Thousands cheer for their neighborhood’s good fortune or for their “enemy” neighborhood’s exclusion. And, it’s all quite passionate.
Monday will be a something different. Most of the group will start its day at an Italian cooking school.