From the north, an artist is in Siena for the first weekend of Spring. Although the sky promises rain, he’s hoping to finish his rendering of the Madonna and earn enough money for Sunday lunch and dinner. It will take him several hours and a box of chalk to complete his picture.
“Nice,” says a tourist, dropping 1 euro into an old fedora.
“Just doing my bit to pretty the place up,” the artist responds when she presses him about why he’s drawing in the street. “Even if it’s only for a moment.”
“But why spend so much time and money on something that doesn’t last?” The tourist wonders. It’s a good question, especially since beautiful Siena–a Medieval and Renaissance art center–doesn’t need much more embellishment.
“Does anything last?” he says. “Nothing’s eternal. Just look.”
Down the street, at San Domenico The Virgin and Child with Saints presides over a busy pedestrian intersection. Possibly fifteenth-century, the fresco peels after centuries of exposure.
At the Duomo, marble, brick and granite. These lacy Gothic patterns sag after almost a millenium of listening to hopes and prayers.
Underfoot, streets in slate and marble, elegant yet cracked and worn, wind up and around the city center’s three hills. They promise to turn slick with the advent of springtime showers.
“I see,” she says.
“My Madonna won’t grow tired. She won’t watch as her city changes and becomes unrecognizable. She’s here now, brilliant and fresh, catching your eye. Isn’t that all anyone can ask for?”