Monday, June 9, 2008

Tourist Gouging

Day 89

I was glad that I had had an early night, I was up early to catch a train to Siena.

My guidebook didn't mention that the town is about 2km from the train station. Luckily a German couple filled me in. I was then able to show them where the buses came (they missed the sign) and tell them that they needed to get tickets in advance.

Soon I was able to find del Campo, the main square and the tourist office where I picked up a map. My plan was to climb the big tower and I headed over to it right away. I had to climb about a third of the way up before getting to the ticket office. This is when I found out that it cost €7 (US $11) to climb up the 300 and some steps. The day I pay that kind of money to walk up steps is the day I need to be committed. I asked if there was another museum included or anything like that. There wasn't. This was just insane to me and an example of tourist gouging. The Accadamia had only cost €6.50 and I got to see one of the most important works of art of all time. This was $11 to walk up a bunch of steps and look at another red roofed Tuscan town.

I really don't mind paying for sites that are worth it. I know that the upkeep for these things is very expensive. Some sites just completely take advantage of tourists though and I always do my best to steer clear of those.

I climbed back down and was really sort of irritated with Siena. Stupid town.

I wanted to give Siena another chance though and headed to the Duomo. This is a masterpiece of medieval art and architecture. For €10 I was given access to 5 different museums. The Duomo's floor is unlike anything else that I have ever seen before. That's really saying something too, as half of it was covered up to protect it. It has cartoons on it that are different bible stories and saints. The funerary art was sculptures were also quite impressive. Siena was beginning to redeem itself.

Included in my ticket was the museum of overflow church art. I really do prefer this kind of art in its natural habitat, but still enjoyed checking it out. At the end of this museum I was able to climb up to the top of the Facciatone. Basically, in 1339 they decided to build a new cathedral, but only the facade was finished. Here not only did I have a great view of the city, but also of del Campo Square. I would not have gotten such an amazing view from the big tower itself. Siena had redeemed itself.

The next bit up was the cathedrals crypt. This one didn't have any dead bodies though. The rooms had been filled in with rubble for 800 years. When they were cleared out about 15 years ago amazing and shockingly intact frescoes were found. I really liked the idea of everything being hidden for so long.

Lastly I went to the baptistry. I was getting a bit tired of the church art though and no longer able to fully appreciate it. In fact, I even skipped the last museum on my ticket. I felt that I had gotten my moneys worth.

I got rather lost but eventually made it back to the train station. I thought that I might try and get to Pisa, but by the time I got back to Florence it was too late to go. I simply headed back to the campground.

I was feeling a little bit more social this evening and ended up having a few drinks and playing cards with some Canadians. I wasn't out late though, I was just too tired from all the activity and early hour of the day.

No comments: