Ospidale in Siena

 Uh Oh – Ospidale in Siena!

This will be a blog with a difference.  As an intro, for those of you who haven’t caught the news via pigeon, Peter is in hospital – known here as ospidale.

So our NZ and Rome visitors left on the Sunday and we went back to paradise, in Castelmuzio, sat on the terrace and read, drank, enjoyed the weather.  About 7pm went to the pub / café / town center / restaurant to use the internet and then go home for dinner.  Well………. That never happened! Used the internet to “post” the last blog and then the pressure.  Tourists (ha ha not that we are) wanted to use the internet cable.  How dare they – hee hee…….. So by the time I packed up we had eaten pizza and drunk red wine and for Peter birre, and then we heard a band starting up outside, in the tiny village square.  So I took the computer home, came back and what a fun night we had.  Before that a man had been selling local raffle tickets which Peter was negotiating with him.  So two “English locals” (a couple who live in England 6 months of the year and in Tuscany the other 6 months – oh, no, we weren’t jealous……………..) befriended us and explained about the tickets so Peter bought 6.  Then another local saw us with the “semi-locals” and shouted all of us a red wine. Then the band…….. was playing “Cold Play” music.  We had been to the real (original) Cold Play concert in Auckland so our ears pricked up.  And they were GOOD.  So off Peter goes to dance away to the band…….. the only person dancing but the whole village is there.  After the band finished Peter had made friends with a man who turns out his son was the drummer……… so instantly Peter and I turned in to the oldest “groupies” this band had ever had.  What fun!

Band At Local Pub - Castelmuzio

Man and donkey from kitchen window Castelmuzio

But the next day was to deliver something completely opposite……………..  Peter had had a sore leg for a few days and it was not getting better. So we decided to go to Siena for the day sightseeing and to find a doctor for Peter.  Siena is 45 – 60 minutes drive and has a population of 56,000.  We had considered going to Monteplucano, which is a village only, for the day but on the toss chose Siena.  And what a pure stroke of major luck that was.  Also, just for some reason, I grabbed the passports – as usually on a day outing we would never take them with us……………….  As it turns out we are now in separate hotels…… here is the entrance to Peters………..

Entrance to Peter's Siena "Hotel"

Visitors entrance to Peter's Siena "Hotel"

and to mine………

Entrance to Jo's Siena hotel

here is the view of Peter’s “hotel” from my hotel room. 

Red buildng in background Peter's hospital room from my hotel window...

We suspect his is a lot more expensive than mine – mine is 65 euros a night and his, well might be, 2000 euros a night we suspect.

We had programmed Susie to a parking lot on the outskirts of Siena and she took us straight there – well, nearly – one wrong turn! We parked and luckily there was a series of escalators to take us up to the town which is high on a hill top.  Peter’s leg was so sore by this time he wouldn’t have been able to walk up. We found the main square and then the information centre.  They told us to access a doctor Peter had to go to the ospidale or policlinico (same place) …… which was outside of the town.  Peter wanted to do a few things first but a few minutes later, while walking up one of the tiny cobbled streets, he had a sharp pain in his chest.  A police woman was coming towards us so I said I’d get her to call an ambulance – but the angels were already on to it and a taxi pulled up right in front of us.  The only car in the whole street! We got in and of to A&E he took us. Once Peter mentioned “Emergency” he speed up and we were there 8 euros later!

Grande Piazza in Siena

There were 22 people in the A&E waiting room and no one on reception………. Then I spied a lady at the back behind a column, and behind a glass wall……. Turns out she is the triage nurse hiding away back there.  So I went over and was pointing to the triage poster on the wall to the red sign, i.e. triage 1 – emergency.  At that point I think I started yelling and Peter wandered around the corner clutching his chest and looking very unwell. So, action started and they whisked him away and told me to stay!!!!! “No, no, no, you are not allowed in!”  “No, no, no”. 

They wanted then his passport so I was so pleased I had them with us.  I then became the 23rd person sitting in the waiting room.  1 hour later the doctor called for “Senora Leathem” (over the loud speaker – they don’t come out) and it took me awhile to realise he meant me!  He took me in and told me in front of another 10 people in another waiting room about Peter’s “dangerous” problem.  Two DVTs in the leg, one of them in the groin and an emboli in the left lung.  Did I understand how dangerous this is, he asked.  Unfortunately I did! He let me sit in the smaller waiting room and then later called me in to see Peter.  By then they had already done a scan and started blood thinning treatment. Then a heart scan and then admittance to Cardiology ICU, all within 3 hours, where he was for 8 days. He is now in the cardiology ward as I write and here are a few of our observations and funnies of the Italian health system……

–        No whanau policy here.  I was not offered a chair, a drink etc all day and was not allowed to be with Peter as they took him to the ICU.  I stood in a small part of a hallway for 3 hours before they came and got me to go and see Peter. One good thing, without anything to eat or drink you don’t need a loo!

–        Once I got in to see him I was then kicked out as visiting hours are very strict.  The notice on the door says ICU visiting hours 12.30pm till 1.30 and 6.30pm till 7.30pm.  Ha ha ha to that.  The ICU is in the main ward and you are literally locked out of the ward via high blue metal doors.  And the visiting hours in the ward are different to those of the ICU so you cant get in! More hours of standing waiting in a “holding pen” type arrangement. 

–        Luckily one or two staff per shift spoke some English so between us, and hand signals / pointing, Peter could communicate

–        All patients use cell phones in ICU!

–        The hospital has a tobbaccari (tobacco shop) and a bar……….. and as you pass by the staff affe yo can see them eating hot chips with their salad……..

Hospital floor map showing size of Bar!


–        The man in the bed beside Peter in ICU, on the day he could sit up and get out of bed to eat, had a bottle of red wine. In fact, Peter has today asked I take a bottle of red in tonight as the doctor has told the 4 in his room they can enjoy a red in moderation with their dinner tonight! He has ordered chianti………

–        The staff who deliver the food also measure the urine! The urine bottle is called the “parrot” and the staff last night told Peter “Your parrot is hungry”……….

My hotel is only 5 minutes walk to the hospital which is great and outside the gate there is a bus stop to catch a bus in to town. Town is a 15 – 20 minute ride from here. So that is all easy and good.  I was so lucky that Michele from Rome, was able to come and be with me from the Tuesday afternoon so I had company and support.  We did a bit of exploring in between hospital visits, and then Shaun, Michele’s husband came up on Friday for the weekend.  So in the weekend we did some tourist sightseeing.  Siena is a lovely town and is very pretty.

Siena Duomo from afar

Inside the Duomo - note teh black and white marble pillarsDuomo from outside


Sample of floor tiles in Babtistry in Duomo

Hand calligraphy from 1300's


The week we arrived here it was a public holiday (like our Labour Day sort of) on the Wednesday.  This meant that the hotel I am in closed their restaurant for 7 days to celebrate!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No room service and no bar either! No other food outlets out here other than the hospital café and the hotel next door.  Seems odd to the people here for me to go next door to another hotel for food. 

The food has been great – at both hotels. Beautifully cooked and presented food so I have been very lucky. I am very much enjoying a hand made pasta smothered in a pumpkin and local cheese…….. with herbs. And a local restaurant in town that mainly only serves pizza but not as we know pizza – this is truly a fine meal!!

Pizza with fresh buffalo mozzeralla......

Small icecream shop Siena

Parma hams in small butcher, Siena

So I have had to learn to drive here on the right side of the road.  It is surprisingly easy if you remember you are in a manual car so change gears, stay right even when turning left………. So far I have only driven on the wrong side of the road once……..

So here we are and likely to be for another fortnight.  Michele is coming back on Tuesday and we might do a few sightseeing things outside of Siena.  We have had to cancel part of our Italy trip (Cinque Terra, Bologna, Venice, Lake Como and Milan).  Shame – we shall just have to come back another time………

I drove over to Castelmuzio, upon instructions from Susie the GPS, to get all our gear from the house and clean up.  It was quite sad as we had thought originally Peter might go back there to recuperate, but the hospital stay is too long.  So farewell to Castelmuzio, that we love!

We hope Peter will have good news this week and that we can then make plans to train or drive to Paris then over to England.  If that all goes well we will catch our itinerary up by 1 July in England.  Will keep you updated. Love to all. Jo and Peter.

Ceiling Library Duomo

2 Responses to “Ospidale in Siena”

  1. Angela smith Says:

    Hope he is feeling better soon Jo. Must have abeen a scary time!!!

  2. Toddy & Sheila Says:

    Hi Jo and Peter …

    Once again a great report. They don’t seem to be very relative friendly over there in the hospitals do they. Makes you appreciate your own country at times like that doesn’t it. Anyway, we wish Peter a speedy recovery and a safe and pleasant time for the rest of your holiday. We’ll look forward to the next blog, hopefully with better news regarding Peter.

    Take care guys,

    Love to you both

    Toddy and Sheila

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