City On a Hill

In Siena on a dreary day and wondering if I should stick this out, wander the streets, find the restaurant I tried and failed to find today that serves pasta with rabbit ragu. Or if I should scram at the crack of dawn for Roma. For my super-hip hotel. For a city. Pace.

The hostel where I’m staying is spotless (read: clinical) and miles outside of the city center and there might as well be signs on the walls that say No Fun, Whatever You Do. I came downstairs and there were two women sitting writing in their journals. And I thought, Oh Christ this is me in ten years.

But Siena. I tried really hard to be mad at it. To be mad at its retarded city bus system (the only way to get around) and its hard-on-the-ankles cobbles and its straight-from-the-factory gelato. But then I found the homemade gelato and walked to the city limits and saw the views over the Tuscan hills — lush, sun-dabbled, gleaming — and found the ancient city walls and the statues of the Virgin in the enclaves and said wordless, formless prayers in the tiniest little churches and scanned the wide panorama of the fan-shaped piazza and watched Italian kids kick around a soccer ball and smaller ones pat a dog.

And I thought, OK, I’ll let myself love this.

I walked the entire city, end to end, in three hours. A passing glance. With a terrible map and shoes that are rubbing at the back leaving bloody spots behind. I paid 5 Euro for bandaids and another 5 for bus tickets that I will probably not use. And still, I let myself love it.

There are things that I want to do here that I don’t think I will be able to do in the next 12 hours. Drink wine in a trattoria in the hills. Wander through a vineyard. Fall madly in love. Buy a villa.

This is not the time in my life for Siena. Someday, Siena. Not now. For now, Rome calls.

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