The rain spoilt the trip to Sienna and this was a real shame as this is a place that should be seen flushed golden with sunshine but because the weather steadfastly refused to cooperate we were unable to appreciate the full beauty of the town. We left the restaurant and tried to persevere with sightseeing in a British stiff upper lip sort of way but it was quite unpleasant by now so reluctantly we turned our backs on Siena and walked back to the railway station for the return journey to Pisa.
On the way back the sun made a brief but welcome appearance, not a lot of sun it has to be said but at least it reassured us that it was still there somewhere hiding shyly behind the clouds. We arrived at the station and with a bit of a wait for the train visited the station bar that in perfect harmony with the conditions outside was a bit grubby and very seedy.
There is a postscript to this story of my visit to Siena and one that in 2006 I couldn’t possibly have foreseen. Five years later I moved to the fishing port of Grimsby and there by the docks is an Italianate water tower built in 1852 to provide power to work the giant lock gates. The tower was designed by a man called James William Wild who had himself visited Siena and had so admired the place that he based his design for the Grimsby Dock Tower on the Torre del Mangia tower on the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. Fate sometimes place strange tricks!
On the train to Empoli Kim slept again. I dozed but it wasn’t proper sleep just that in between state when vivid dreams and uncontrolled head lolling prevent proper rest and I might have snoozed like this all the way if I hadn’t suddenly panicked that in the gloom we had missed the station and woke up with a start.
It was dark and we had seemed to be on the train for far too long and I began to wonder if I had nodded off completely and now we were on our way to Rome or Naples or somewhere else equally hundreds of miles from our destination. I was extremely relieved therefore to pull into Empoli and make the quick connection back to Pisa. Just like Kim I could easily have dropped off again as soon as the train pulled out of the station so to keep myself occupied I read the guidebooks again.
We couldn’t possible put up with another night of traffic disturbance and Kim had worried all day about a repeat of the sleepless experience so back at the hotel there was only one thing to do and that was to apply for a room change away from the relentless traffic noise.
Almost every guest review said that eventually they had to make the same request so I don’t suppose it came as a great surprise to the desk clerk to get this application. He searched the hotel register and found an alternative room at the rear of the hotel and apologised for the fact that we were moving from one of the best suites in the establishment to a basic standard room. He seemed to think it was an odd decision and this has led me to the conclusion that Italians are obviously oblivious to traffic noise but quite frankly we couldn’t have been happier and were delighted to be transferred to an obviously inferior but crucially quieter room with a delightful roof garden outside. We moved in, opened a bottle of red wine and because the weather was improving and Pisa had not had the heavy rain that we had experienced in Siena, sat outside to celebrate the transfer and enjoy the relative peace that the rear of the hotel offered.
Later we walked out to a nearby restaurant that we had picked out the day before and enjoyed an excellent meal of wild boar. After dinner we went back to the new hotel room and after a final drink on the roof garden enjoyed a peaceful and undisturbed night’s sleep. It was lovely.