A Belated Update

Well, I am writing this a day late ( I know, I’m sorry!  It was a busy night), but here are the events of yesterday… 

It started off with yet another walk up to the hill, honestly, I’m starting to see that hill in my sleep.  Is that normal?  Probably not… However, it’s a great way to wake up, if not slightly cruel at 6:00 in the morning.  After we made it up to the hill, we began to work in the trench.  We were defining bulk walls, cleaning rocks, and finding bucchero (otherwise known as drinking vessels made of black, thin pottery).  Blissfully, it wasn’t too hot on the hill and we had a fairly pleasant day of work.  We didn’t find anymore bits of bronze, but we found plenty of terra cotta, not that we are all that surprised.  After eating lunch on the hill, we we not down to the Magazino, which is the conservation lab of the site.  Personally, this is my favorite part.  We got to clean items that are found on the hill and put together pieces of pan tiles.  I ended up cleaning a coin that was found in the trench next to our own.  I soon discovered that the coin was not, in fact, ancient but rather fairly modern.  It is a Medicii coin, identifiable by the crest with six balls on it.  The inscription on the coin reads COS 35 which I, among others, feel signifies that it is from the 35th year of the reign of Cosmo Di Medicii, placing the coin’s date at around 1705.  While it is pure speculation that this coin comes from the Baroque period, those in the conservation lab and the trench where it was found are quite certain of its origin.  Needless to say, I was exceptionally excited about this discovery.  After cleaning the coin, I moved on to working with the rest of the group.  We were consolidating and then gluing pan tiles back together.  Some of us were cleaning old glue off of the terra cotta, while the rest were preparing it for the glue and drying process.  To prepare the terra cotta, we would put consolidator on it.  We do this because the glue is stronger than the terra cotta, so we coat the edges that are being glued together in a liquid that is 5% of the glue and 95% acetone, effectively strengthening the tile.  Once the consolidator is dry, we used a mixture of 50% glue 50% acetone to adhere the two pieces together, setting it precariously in a bow so it was standing upright and surrounded by sand bags.  This process took up much of our afternoon, giving us only an hour to shower and get ready before making our way to Siena to see a practice of the Palio.

A word on the Palio… For those few who are unfamiliarit with the Palio, it is a horse race between ten of the seventeen Contradas in Siena.  A Contrada is a neighborhood within Siena that is highly spirited and rooted in its history.  Each Contrada has a mascot such as an elephant, a giraffe, a unicorn, a goose, a caterpillar, a shell, and so on.  On the day of the Palio, ten of these Contradas will race for honor (and the highly coveted flag of Siena) around the Compo, which is the town center.  They take three laps around the track, or two minutes, and the winner gets to climb the side of one of the buildings and get the prized flag from its perch, bringing honor to the winning Contrada.  This special day happens twice a year, once in July and once in August, on the holy days of Mother Mary, so every Contrada races at least once.  As it happened, we were in Siena for the first practice race.  The jockeys had just been assigned to their horses and were riding them for the first time, which seemed to be a little rough for a couple of duos.  One of the horses was obviously not having anything to do with the Palio and did not want to be there, he was less than obedient for his rider and refused to stay in place or start, making more than a few Sienese slightly unhappy.  After several attempts though, they were finally able to get everything up and running (haha, because it’s a horse race…I’m sorry, that’s a horrible pun).  While this was a race, it was still a practice race and the horses never went above a canter, the jockeys had decided to take things easy the first time on these horses, seeing as they are riding bare back and have to last until the 2nd of July, that was probably a pretty smart move.  No matter what though, it was still super cool.  We were standing n g right against the railings and could reach out and touch the horses (no Mom, I didn’t actually reach out and touch the horses, I’m not that impulsive).  After the practice was over, we headed to dinner, a cute little place right by the open market wher we could get pizza or pasta.  I had pasta in a truffle and cream sauce (don’t worry, Dad, it was as divine as it sounds).  We then piled back into the car and made our way home, arriving at around 11:00 and having to wake up by about 5:45.  Needless to say, we fell asleep almost instantaneously, only to be awoken all too quickly and start another day on the hill.   

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One thought on “A Belated Update

  1. What a spectacular day! Thank you so much for the technical description of what happens in the lab – cool! I’m fairly envious right now – a de Medici coin!! Followed by a viewing of the Palio and then pasta con pana e funghi – yum. Wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

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