Italy 11: Siena (Part 1)

Overwhelmed by Photographs, I Resolve to Take None on Our Next Trip

May 15-17, 2019

One of the reasons why it takes me so long to post each instalment of this blog is the number of days it takes me to go through all the photos we (I) have taken. Long ago, in the distant past (i.e., prior to about 1997), when one had to pay to get each photograph developed, I was relatively parsimonious with my photo-taking. These days, however, I seem to have gone mad with the freedom afforded by the digital cameras on my phone and iPad. I find myself taking dozens of photographs of the intricate carvings on the door of one cathedral, assuming that there will be no negative consequences. (Pun unintended).

Arnie’s photos are much better than mine, probably because he is far more rational about the whole process. He also takes far fewer photos than I do: while I am getting the dozens of images previously mentioned, he has compiled a sensible array of pictures that perfectly represent the entire edifice, inside and out. He thinks ahead about what he’s going to photograph, frames the subject properly, snaps the picture, and then moves on to the next subject. Every hour or so, he goes through the photos he has taken and deletes any that are less than ideal.

Garden Hotel in Siena, Exterior

I, on the other hand, am thinking “Wow! Wow! Wow! Oh, look at that building! I’ve got to get a photo of that for Miro! And Kathleen would love this painting! I must take a photo of it for her! And here! Look! An insect! So sparkly! The grandkids will love that! Oh, look at that gnarly tree! And wow! The light has changed and the tree looks even better! And here’s the most beautiful bridge in Italy! And here’s an even better place to take a photo of the bridge! Wait! This angle is better yet! And the water under it! Just look! Magnificent! What a colour! Wait! Did I get a photo of that gnarly tree?” (Every exclamation mark in the preceding stream of consciousness represents at least three photographs. )

The upshot? (Pun unintended.) In the past week, I have gone through the two hundred or so photos I took in Siena, plus the one or two dozen that Arnie gave me, attempting to throw out the garbage shots and the duplicate shots and saving the rest for posterity, and then extracting the best of the best for the blog.

On future travels, I am going to allow myself a limited number of photos per stop, and leave the overall shots to Arnie. Or possibly I will never take another photo at all and will simply buy postcards.

Garden Hotel, Siena, Interior

Some people say you should actually look at the places you visit instead of just taking pictures of them. I do look, and I do enjoy what I am seeing. But I also want to hang onto those experiences forever, and to share them with everyone I know and love (and a few people I don’t know at all who have chosen to read my blog).

In the case of Siena, once I had whittled down my photos to a manageable number of “keepers,” I realized that in addition to those we had taken of the cathedral and the old town, more than a dozen of the ones I liked best were images of the hotel where we had stayed.

“You can’t write a blog post about a hotel!” I told myself. “Yes I can,” I answered. “It’s my blog, and I can do whatever I want.” And therefore, as well as focusing (pun intended) on the illusory (pun intended) seduction of the digital camera, this blog post is also about a hotel. (There will be another of these before we’re through. There were several hotels that I would gladly go back to just to hang out in them for a couple of days or even longer, without doing any sightseeing at all. This was one, and another was in Florence. More on that one when we get there.)

Dining Room, Garden Hotel, Siena

Everything about the Garden Hotel was… well… photogenic. The hotel was a villa before it was renovated in the 1960s, and the surrounding grounds have been preserved since the 18th century so they are beautiful, and many of the trees are very old. Someone who visited the hotel described it on a travel website as “dated,” but to my mind, that was exactly what gave it so much charm. From the telephone booths (no longer functional) near the dining room to the art-deco bedside lamps and the tiled bathroom, I felt as though I were in a movie from the 1950s: La Dolce Vita or something.

Then there was the dining room. Then there was the food. Breakfast was included in the price of the room. Dinner was not inexpensive, but then I suppose we didn’t have to eat both a pasta course and a main dish.

The views from the hotel were lovely.

And then there was this gnarly tree….

2 responses to “Italy 11: Siena (Part 1)

  1. Caterina Edwards

    If I ever go back to Siena, I am going to stay there. I love your photos. We stayed in a “dated” hotel overlooking Lake Garda a couple of years ago. I wish I had taken pictures.

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