In the States, humpday is a day to be recognized simply because it marks the halfway point through the week. With classes, responsibilities, homework, etc. Wednesdays are a gentle reminder of the upcoming weekend shenanigans that are quickly approaching. Humpdays are a nice milestone in the week, but nothing special. However, in Siena Wednesday has grown to be my favorite day of the week.
There are two reasons why Wednesdays are so special to me. The first, is the street market. Every Wednesday there is a gigantic street fair of sorts that extends all the way to the fortezza walls and wraps itself around the outside of the city limits. Markets like this exist in a lot of places throughout Italy, and even in America, but what makes this market so special is it’s significance in the city. Everyone seems to get involved with the market. Of course there are tourists hopping from shop to shop, looking for that perfect Italian made handbag, or leather jacket, but what’s special about the market are the number of Sienese people that stroll through the streets week after week. The market is a major part of Sienan culture. Locals come here to buy a number of things: clothing, some decorations for the home perhaps, but there are even locals that come to get their food at the market. There are families that line up outside of the streetside pet market – yes there is a street vendor who sells birds and other small animals. The market represents a history of a long engrained cultural phenomenon that seems to take the city back to a time long forgotten in the U.S., days before Walmart and similar supermarkets existed. Days when shops thrived on four wheels, and strolled from town to town via horse and buggy. The market is a time capsule and it’s mine to take advantage of, every single week.
My other favorite part of humpday is a mere sliver of the 24 hours that make it up. For the past few weeks my classmates and I have had the pleasure of enjoying an amazing course in Tuscan food at a cooking school just down the street from our apartment. Every Wednesday night at 6:00 my friends and I walk down the street to visit a very friendly Italian woman named Leila. It is here where she teaches us the ins and outs of traditional Tuscan dishes. At every class, we cook a full four course meal, and spoil ourselves. The first class consisted of hand made pici pasta – sort of like a hand rolled, thick and chewy spaghetti – and we covered it in a traditional pomodoro e aglio sauce (tomatoes and garlic, with some other fresh herbs intertwined). We’ve also created hand made gnocchi pasta with a Gorgonzola cream sauce, bomboloni (Italian doughnuts), bruschetta, lasagna, spinach ravioli, and a couple of traditional Italian soups; one of which is my all time favorite, the Papa Pomodoro (a soup that soaks stale bread in a tomato broth that simmers for hours until the bread mixes and becomes a part of the delicious blends of herbs and tomatoes).
Tonight was our second-to-last class and I will have to say this is one of the most memorable experiences thus far on my adventures. For only 255 Euros, I couldn’t pass it up. I cannot wait to go home, pop open a few bottles of wine, and cook some traditional meals for my family, friends and my lovely girlfriend. I might just need to open a restaurant.
Wednesday are a great day of the week, but while I’ve been here in Siena, they’ve been all the more sweet.