For some reason I am much more aware of fashion when in Siena than in other parts of the world. I don’t know if it’s the allure of Il Campo, the passeggiata on via Banchi di Sopra or maybe just my heighten awareness of people. Regardless the cause, I know I do a lot more people watching when in Siena than in any other place.
We arrived in Siena on night three of my “tour.” During the past three days, my tour guide friends, Andy and MaryAda, had been meticulously combing every detail of this new itinerary. Ditching the rental car and checking into Hotel Chiusarelli was such a relief! No more driving… just walking the medieval streets of Siena.
We went directly to Il Campo, the weather was great so we grabbed a seat at one of the outdoor cafes and ordered lunch. One of the first things I noticed being here “off-season” was the lack of tourists. The huge square was scattered with just a few pods of people enjoying the sun and a picnic lunch. For early January, this warm weather is very uncommon and it seemed that many local folks were out to make the most of it.
Sitting there in the sun enjoying my pasta our conversation turned to the Palio, the famous horse race that occurs on this very square twice in the summer. As I described the event to my friends, I began pointing out the various brackets on the exterior walls around the square meant to attach rickety old wooden bleachers for the thousands who arrive in town for the horse race. In my description I pointed out what I think is the perfect balcony perch for taking in this magnificent square during the Palio or anytime during the year. You can only access this balcony by way of the bar, discreetly tucked into the building below and if you are not looking for it, you’ll miss it.
After lunch, we went our own way and decided to meet up later for dinner. I poked around Siena’s various contrada neighborhoods hoping to run across some previously undiscovered (for me) little gem of a bar, restaurant or shop. I found many of them, but most importantly, I experienced Siena with only the locals in town. As I said, this was so unlike the heavy tourist traffic in the spring and summer months. Finally I picked out a place in the market square to return to for dinner.
By now it was late afternoon, as I walked across Il Campo the long shadow from the bell tower stretched nearly all the way across the square. Leaving the sun, the temperature dropped ten degrees as I entered the main pedestrian streets known as via Banchi di Sopra. Suddenly I was among more people than I had seen all day! It was as if all of Siena had suddenly come out to take a stroll and visit with one another. I had walked right into the daily ritual known in Italy as the passeggiata, or the slow walk.
I dug out my camera and began snapping photos because I realized every woman was wearing some version of knee-high boots. There were all styles and colors ranging from swanky black leather to more casual thigh-high suede leather ones with fringe. I’ve included a few of the photos I snapped just so you can get an idea.
Also, notice the men… many are wearing stylish shiny quilted jackets with faux-fur collars… something you’d never catch any guy in the USA wearing. Also, notice the white tennis shoes and jeans sported by the guys. That struck me as odd, because I’ve always preached not to wear white running/tennis shoes because that screams “American tourist” to everyone. Well these shoes were not exactly our version of tennis shoes, but pretty darn close.
So, foot fashions are changing… be on the lookout for tall boots and designer tennis shoes coming to a shopping mall near you… and don’t forget to pick up your faux-fur collared men’s jackets!
Ciao from Siena!
P.S. Click here for another one of my “fashion” epiphanies in Siena.
2 more entries about hanging out on Il Campo:
Fashion in Siena
Camping out on Il Campo!