Last Sunday was our day of rest which meant that most of us split up and went exploring. I had planned on spending my day wandering around Volterra and sketching. I started off by walking outside the city to Saint Giusto. This 16th century church took about 10 minutes to walk to from the school. When I got inside, I was the only one there. After a week or so of constant interaction with new people, being alone in the church was so relaxing. I spent some time sketching both inside and outside of the church before heading back to the city center to grab lunch.
On my way to lunch, I ran into two of the Polish students who invited me to join them and two other students on a day trip to a secret beach in Populonia. Since I had already gotten some solitude and sketching, I joined them. Five of us fit quite snugly in a Fiat Punto and made the hour or so drive down to the coast. After parking near la Rocca di Populonia, we began to hike down to the water. The walk itself took over ten minutes and took us through the forest before opening on a bluff. The view was absolutely breathtaking and the hike was well worth it. The five of us climbed down the rocks and found a place to leave our stuff. The water was so clear and beautiful that you could see everything under the waves. It was obvious that this was not a tourist spot; there were maybe 30 other people scattered on the rocky beach not including ourselves. We spent a couple hours exploring and swimming before getting back in the car and heading to Siena.
By the time we got to Siena, it was 11pm. Piazza del Campo was still alive with activity so we had no problem finding a place to eat in the square. After exploring the city a little and getting gelato, we got back in the car and made our last leg of the journey to Monteriggioni.
Monteriggioni is a tiny medieval town that is unique because the city growth was limited to the walls. We arrived around 1 am and the town was almost completely empty. The experience was like being at Mont Saint-Michel at night; the only people who are there are sleeping and the activity is limited to your party and a few stray cats. It took two minutes to walk from one gate to the other so our stay was very brief. The five of us took a lap within the walls and were back in the car in 15 minutes. The last drive home took an hour and I was asleep by 2:30am. It was an exhausting day, but well worth it. I’m so glad I ran into my friends in the piazza early on. My day might have ended with much less excitement.