Siena, Italy

The vibe on that hot summer afternoon was absolute madness. Literally everyone was swarming in the Piazza del Campo in the hopes of securing a spot with at least some decent visibility. We were there pretty early – no chance for a handful of students to dish out hundreds of dollars for bleacher seats – although we were well aware that hours of standing in the blistering sun and watching preparations and medieval theatrics would be rewarded with a mere 1-2 minutes of horse racing.

But, that is the Palio. Who were we to argue? Still, if you exclude the heat, it was probably worth it. Feeling safe in my tribe’s ability to hold my spot, I squeezed through hundreds of men, women and children, holding my camera tight, and walked out towards the cathedral square, hoping to snap a few shots of the Duomo with fewer tourists in the frame. Looking back at the crowd I had left behind, I instantly regretted it. But, no use lingering on the obstacle course I would soon have to go through again.

There were a good three hours, maybe even more until the procession started from the Piazza del Duomo, so I was disappointed to sill find it pretty full of tourists. Might as well take advantage of the shade from the surrounding walls to cool off a bit. I sat at the steps of the Duomo, swatting away pigeons and started taking random shots of shadows and wall textures with my telephoto, when I noticed the young man resting under the big clock on the other side of the square. There were some people sitting on the bench next to him but I wanted the shot regardless. I quickly switched my lenses, pointed the camera, and when I looked through the viewfinder, lo and behold, they were gone. He was… solo.

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