I couldn’t believe my eyes. One of my favourite movies come to life right in front of me!
Before she shone as MI5 officer in the excellent Killing Eve (if you haven’t seen it, run don’t walk, it’s amazing), Sandra Oh was helping Diane Lane live the dream in Under The Tuscan Sun, and here, on the steps of the Duomo di Siena, I was doing the same.
Hundreds of young men, dressed in colourful pantaloons and peaked caps, were performing a spectacular flag-throwing ceremony to the beat of a marching band.
Wandering the streets of this gloriously preserved Medieval city was a highlight of this trip to Italy, history seemed visceral, vibrant and very much alive.
For flag-throwing is serious business in Siena and heralds the running of Il Palio, a horserace that’s been held for hundreds of years around the city’s central square. Dressed in the colours of their contrade - or city ward - 10 jockeys ride bareback at astonishing speeds around the square cheered on by the entire population.
Today the flag-throwing preceded not the race, but the drawing of the city wards that would be in the race - an event that also brought out thousands of Sienese to witness and celebrate if their flag was drawn.
Celebrate in such a joyously uninhibited and exuberant way that it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement.
It was while watching the flags flying through the air that I turned my gaze to the heavens - well, the earthly incarnation of heaven - and saw the magnificent details of the cathedral’s columns that were supporting the equally beautiful archways shining in pink and gleaming white. The craftsmanship, the detail, the texture are simply breathtaking and have been captured in this design.
I still dream of doing a Diane Lane and moving to the Tuscan countryside, but for now, this cushion is a little slice of Siena that sends me there from here.