SO MUCH good stuff!

Holy Mary.  Since I last posted so much has happened, but I am not going to go into the MIND BLOWING time I had at the Palio today...that needs its own post tomorrow.

In the last week, I have visited two stunning Tuscan cities, seen the inspiring remains of a 12th century cathedral, and to top it all off saw my first practice race for the Palio.  On Sunday morning, I saw the horses and jockeys doing a provo (practice run), and it was so exciting.  It is especially interesting considering the education I received about the history of the event, which dates back to Medieval times.  

On Saturday I happened to be out walking when a parade of all the contradas began.  This one consisted mostly of kids dressed up in medieval costumes carrying flowers and candles, followed by drummers and flag bearers.  It finished at the duomo with four giant cows pulling a medieval cart.  This is not something one sees everyday!

Contrada dinner on Via San Marco, August 15, the night before Palio.  This is the street where I am currently living.

Contrada dinner on Via San Marco, August 15, the night before Palio.  This is the street where I am currently living.

The starting line of the prova (a test run) for the Palio. 

The starting line of the prova (a test run) for the Palio. 

Piazza del Campo at night. Dirt covers the ground and the restaurants set their tables on it.  I love walking on the dirt for some reason...I find it comforting.

Piazza del Campo at night. Dirt covers the ground and the restaurants set their tables on it.  I love walking on the dirt for some reason...I find it comforting.

From a parade a few days ago...one of the many Palio events of the week.

From a parade a few days ago...one of the many Palio events of the week.

The view from a tower in San Gimignano, a beautiful Tuscan town I highly recommend visiting. I took a tour of the duomo which is covered in frescos depicting highlights of the Old and New Testaments.  The audio guide enriched my experience in the church.  Then I climbed up a tower and took this photo, followed by a visit to a museum with paintings dating from 1200-1600.  Most of these were icon paintings done in egg tempera and gold leaf.  Stunning work.

The view from a tower in San Gimignano, a beautiful Tuscan town I highly recommend visiting. I took a tour of the duomo which is covered in frescos depicting highlights of the Old and New Testaments.  The audio guide enriched my experience in the church.  Then I climbed up a tower and took this photo, followed by a visit to a museum with paintings dating from 1200-1600.  Most of these were icon paintings done in egg tempera and gold leaf.  Stunning work.

A San Gimignano piazza.

A San Gimignano piazza.

Fresco in a San Gimignano museum. 

Fresco in a San Gimignano museum.