Conjoined prophets and politicians?

On Wednesday last week, we went to Siena. It really is a beautiful city, and much easier to get around than Florence. We had hoped to have lunch at a favourite spot, La vecchia Taverna di Bacco, but it was closed for the ferie/holidays, and Marcus was lucky to get a booking instead for Le Logge, just off Il Campo. The city was very quiet, as most of the students are still on holiday, AND there were only a few other tourists wandering about….bellissimo!


After a super lunch we decided to do a few cultural things, so first we went to Santa Maria della Scala, where they are doing an enormous amount of restoration, and there were two Christmas exhibitions open. The first one was of infant Jesuses (?)!!! (what on earth is the collective noun for this; a swarm?, a team? a flock?), and consisted of about 6, one foot high gesso statues, most of which looked alarmingly like some of our politicians! One was the spitting image of Enda, I would have taken a photo with my phone, but a guard was stuck to me once she spotted me laughing – she probably thought I was on day-release from a home for the bewildered.

We didn’t fair much better at the other show which was for children. I knew that LSH would be reduced to tears once he heard the music they had in the background…the theme to “Cinema Paradiso”! We must have looked a picture; I now looked like Alice Cooper with my mascara running from all the laughing at the statues, and Marcus blubbing uncontrollably to the music. So we had to make a swift exit before we were marched out….

Our next port of call was a Natural History Museum in the fisiocritici part of the university. Marcus first wanted to see the botanical gardens, but was satisfied with a look at the rocks; and I, the animals. The museum is well worth a visit and is quite small. It comprises of several private collections, and has been in existence for over two hundred years. There are three rooms which were the original meeting rooms of the society and house scientific instruments, books, manuscripts, glass slides and furniture.

I went up to the “dead zoo” and although some of the animals were very fine and with these the name of the taxidermist was recorded for all to see and admire his handiwork, it was the anonymously stuffed animals which I enjoyed most. They had the most extraordinary expressions. The squirrels, a kangaroo, rabbits and various unidentifiable rodents seemed to fair the worst at the hands of Taxidermist “X”, and at times resembled road kill, which made me wonder how clumsy can a taxidermist be? But the real tour de force was the badger, which (possibly thankfully), was on a high shelf and couldn’t be seen in his full glory. He had a seam of very lumpy stitching running from his nose to almost his tail! I thought afterwards that if this was his best side, maybe the moths had had a go at him.

On the top floor there are anatomical drawings, which always make me wince, and a series of skeletons of siamese twin lambs and calves, which are strangely beautiful. 
In the basement there are some Etruscan tombs and pottery, as wells a working experimental apparatus by Boyle, the Irish scientist. It demonstrated the effect of low pressure on a sealed rubber glove in a glass bell. Of course, the little boy in Marcus couldn’t resist having a go, after which, it didn’t seem to work at all.
So yet another two places we won’t be able to visit for quite a number of months ...

Well,  we can keep our heads down in Dublin, now that we are back: look out Dublin!