Too tired to make a creative title

This entire weekend has been basically non stop traveling for me. Friday was Firenze (Florence) which was pretty nice. It was good to just hang out with my friends and do a little shopping and eating. And we went to the Uffizi which is a museum formerly owned by the Medici family that is now and art museum holding such great works as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (which I saw!!!) and is pretty much just over all impressing. The museum was unfortunately crowded though, and that made the trip a tad less nice for me but still, I got to see a great artwork so I know better than to complain. Then in typical fashion, it began to rain. I don’t think it has really gone a day here without raining which is apparently really weird to all the Italians I talk to. They absolutely hate it and I get the feeling they blame us for bringing the bad weather somehow. But anyway, since it was raining and thundering and lightning, we took cover in a gelato shop and pretty much just jumped between shops trying to stay out of the rain and look around. So, that was pretty much how we spent our day. Everyone told me it was impossible to see Florence in a day so we just tried to see what we could and get back since we had to get up early for another trip the next day. When we got back to Siena, we all went out to dinner (which was absolutely the highlight of my day and so much fun) and then all got together at our favorite bar to hang out before going home and packing.

So, the next day was the really nice day. I had to be at Fontebranda at 8:30 in the morning which is very very difficult for me to do (ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you war stories of attempting to wake me up/make me do things in the morning. Not a recommended endeavor). But, I made it on time and then we were off to the beach! The van ride was a lot of fun as we all just joked around with Mike one of the employees at SIS who is American and pretty much just lives the most awesome life ever. We finally got the beach and I was sooo excited I had to really restrain myself from running the whole way to the sand. It was so pretty there. There was a nice island in the distance and everything just looked so perfect. It was a great experience just to sit on the beach and look at the faraway island and realize that I was on a beach on the Tuscan coast. Mind boggling. The sand was oddly dark, like almost black. I will need to ask my brother why this was, I am sure he will know or will at least immediately look it up and tell me. So, we all set our stuff up and lotioned up (yes mom I did put on sunscreen!) and then my friend Kristen and I went to go feel the water. It was super cold! I figured that it would just get warmer as the day progressed (it didn’t). The water though was soooo so clear! I couldn’t believe how clear it was. You could see the sand on the bottom of the sand bar move as the waves came in and moved out. There weren’t any sea creatures though and only a few shells on the bottom but I still could probably stand there all day just looking in the water. While the water didn’t get any warmer, the sand absolutely did. I guess since the sand was so dark it absorbed the sun so that it was so hot it was actually impossible to stand on it without shoes. I don’t know exactly how to accurately describe the temperature except to offer the mental image of everyone in our group (even the men) screaming and running towards the water every time we got up. It was so painful. I wish I could go back to that day or at least have had more time. It was so peaceful and relaxing to sit there and read or sleep as most people in our group did. There were also a lot of cool seashells and people brought back handfuls from their walks. However the day had to end and so we packed up a few hours later to head to our next activity. The next activity was going to a park called “Il giardino dei tarocchi” or The Tarot Garden in English. The park is the work of artist Niki di Saint Phalle who was a French-American woman from a very wealthy family in the States. So the very basic history of the park is that Niki had a family in the states but ended up completely abandoning her husband and daughters to instead pursue her art. She had a few mental diseases that she found were helped by her artwork. So, she created a ginormous park with some very original works inside. Most of the artwork is made from ceramic and mirrors and while I am not exactly a major fan of this style of art, it was still very impressive to behold. We had a sort of tour guide to show us around the park but since Niki di Saint Phalle did not want structured tours to be a part of her park, we were not officially on a tour so it was very relaxed. I will include some photos below for your viewing pleasure. After the park, we went to our hotel to shower and get ready for dinner. The hotel was very cute and I roomed with my friend Christina which was fun especially since she doesn’t snore. We all had dinner together as a group in the city (Citta di massa marittima), which was really good! We had some meat, and some bread salad type thing, and pannecotta (that is an estimation of the spelling) and by the end, I was very happy. After, we all went to a bar nearby to listen to some live music and just hand out for a little. Christina and I were super tired though and left with a few other people to go back and sleep.

Finally to today’s activities! This morning we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel. I was so happy to finally have a semi American breakfast again. And by semi American, I mean not cookies. Everyone but me seems to really enjoy having cookies for breakfast but I would prefer a bagel or some oatmeal. So this morning I pretty much just ate everything I could and was pretty content with myself. Then, we went into the town to have a very quick tour and learn some cool things and then head to the van for beach number 2! However, in typical fashion, it again started to rain even though everyone said it was going to be a beautiful weekend on the coast. All lies. It rained almost the entire time. We waited in the car for awhile for it to stop and then walked down to the town area to hypothetically have a beach day. Never happened. Instead, we looked super out of place in our bathing suits and coverups carrying towels and shivering in the cold. But the market was at least very cool and the pizza we had for lunch was very good. But I was (and still am) upset that we didn’t get another beach day so that I could try and get the color (which is right now very red) evened out on me. Yeah I burned prettyy badly yesterday but I am used to it so I am not too upset. After the “beach” we got back in the van and left for our final activity of the day, seeing L’Abbazia di San Galgano. The story of San Galgano is that it was originally made as a stop for pilgrims doing the Way of St. James. The San Galgano was constructed by a man from a very rich Italian family who recently reformed from nefarious activities and decided to build a monastery. Unfortunately, the monastery never really got business and was eventually neglected until a fire in 1786 and the deconsecration of the church in 1789. Today, the church is an impressive ruin and is incredibly beautiful. It is a large open space with an impressive outside facade that is not collapsed or really very damaged besides age. It was very pretty and reminded me a lot of the Rock of Cashel in Ireland. Since it was (still) raining, the inside of the church was just a tad muddy and gross so we didn’t choose to stay too long. After the church, we got back in the vans and headed to Siena! I was quite tired and must have looked like an unhappy cat who was just forced to take a bath when I walked into the apartment. After my shower and some great tea my momma gave me, I felt much better albeit a little exhausted. It has been very eventful these past few days but I am happy that I have seen so much in such a short time!

Florence!

Florence!

Opening statue at the park

Opening statue at the park