la fiaba – happy new year from Italy

Let’s say you’ve been on holiday for a few weeks, and it’s gone a million times better than you ever expected, and the whole thing has you so happy and optimistic about what comes next that you don’t quite know what to do with yourself. If you should happen to find yourself in that position, then please, get yourself to Siena, Italy.

When I arrived in Siena last night, it was dark and cold and I didn’t really do much exploring. Waking up today to bright blue skies and blinding sunlight was perfect, and I went about a morning routine that I’ve become quite used to. First, open up the blinds that keep the rooms in Italy pitch black at all hours of the day if they’re closed. Then, go for a coffee at whatever bar happens to be closest. Today I started with a macchiato, which I already knew would cost 90 cents. They’re all 90 cents, seriously, every place I’ve been. I stood at the bar, drank quickly, and headed out.

My first stop when I got into the center of the city was at a supermarket for some practical supplies and food. I stood in line at the meat/bread counter waiting for my number to be called. DIECI! the woman yelled a few minutes later, standing about 5 meters away with a million people between us. DIECI! I yelled back, and she ran over. I asked for a small doughnut, which I ate for breakfast outside.

I don’t usually like sweet stuff for breakfast. I’ve always preferred plain, simple foods like breads or cereal, yogurt, fruit, etc. After a a couple weeks in Italy, I’m now reaching for cookies, croissants, donuts, anything that has sugar in it. If I manage to sleep past an acceptable breakfast time, my first meal of the day becomes lunch, and my first beverage of the day is wine.

Anyway, this town – Siena – is the most perfect backdrop to go along with my mood today. Completely different than anywhere I’ve ever been. Absolutely beautiful. Peaceful, when I walked down the side streets where there were no shops. I bought a map but never bothered to look at it. When I got tired of walking, I would sit down on church steps or benches or on the ground in a pretty spot in the middle of a city square. Sometimes I would snap out of my daze and try to have a short conversation in Italian with someone at a cafe about travel or coffee or food. My very, very limited vocabulary has not yet stopped anyone from making small talk with me.

So a trip that has felt like a fairy tale the entire time ends appropriately. Tomorrow I’ll go to Pisa in the afternoon so I can catch my flight early Wednesday morning to Amsterdam. I’m hoping to go back and fill in this blog with bits and pieces of this trip in the next few days – I think it will take a few days to get back into the swing of Amsterdam anyway. But on that note, I saw a Dutch bicycle in Treviso, and I excitedly took a picture of it, even though I’m about to go back to a city full of identical looking bicycles. I’m looking forward to seeing my friends, even feeling good about returning to work, it’s just always hard to end a vacation.


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