Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
January 30, 2011
newport beach, California
September 18, 2008
by Liam Hetherington
Manchester, United Kingdom
June 10, 2008
From journal Sainted Siena
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
February 26, 2004
The bell tower dates back to Siena’s 14th-century heyday when it vied with other city-states for local prominence. It is named after its gluttonous first watchman and there is a statue to commemorate the fellow in the Palazzo’s inner courtyard (where the ticket office is situated). Take a moment to look up and enjoy the view of the sky and the tower that is framed by the courtyard – I found it exhilarating in a dizzying, reverse-vertigo sort of way.
Access to the tower is via a small doorway in a corner of the courtyard – the first short staircase leads to a widened hallway where an attendant checks tickets and regulates traffic. The policing is quite stern considering one is a paying visitor although it doesn’t take long to see why. Tickets for ascent are sold with half-hourly slots – turn up before your time and you will be made to wait in the lobby. When you start the main 503 step ascent you’ll see why. A single narrow staircase winds its way around the square insides of the tower.
There is barely any room for passing; even less if you’re encumbered with a pack of any size. Your only hope is to press yourself into the landing corners and even then it remains somewhat intimate. Luckily the half hourly timings seem to work well as this is roughly how long it takes to go up, recover your breath, regain the use of your lower limbs, gaze longingly over the beautiful Tuscan cityscape and countryside, ask your partner if they’re sure they wouldn’t like to grow olives and raise bambinos on a rustic hillside while sipping Frascati and complete the dizzying descent with a heavy heart.
The majority of the climb is made inside the heavy walls of the tower – odd glimpses of the outside world can be gained through narrow slits but the dramatic view is largely saved for the top. One re-emerges into the sunlight to view the ant-people down in the Campo and gaze across the terracotta rooftops to the countryside beyond. Magnificent.
The final few flights of stairs are not for the fainthearted. Outside the brick solidity of the tower proper, steep wooden ladders can be taken to successive platforms that felt, to me at least, shockingly unstable. The Blonde displayed her usual wisdom and called it a day on the first landing. I didn’t get much further.
The tower opens at 10am year-round and closing time varies according to season, stretching late into the evening in the summer. Admission costs €5.50 or €9.50 combined with Museo Civico admission.
From journal Intoxicated by (and in) Siena