Softly embraced by the green sinuous Tuscan Hills, Siena is one of the most renowned towns among the medieval ones.
Named among UNESCO world heritage since 1995, it is recognized to have one of the largest artistic heritage, still well-preserved, which dates back to the medieval times.
Although most of visitors come here on a day trip as it is only one hour by car from Florence, this town is a precious hidden gem placed between nature and hills that is worth a longer visit. Whether coming from Rome or southern locations, or from Northern Italy, it is a well connected city, both by train and highways, which makes it the ideal destination for a trip.
As Siena was located along one of the main roads to Rome, soon it became a crossing point where travelers and goods used to stop at on their way to South along the old Via Francigena. This was the main reason why this town bears undeniable memories of this era.
To protect their city during ancient times, senese people surrounded the three hills where the old town was founded with impressive walls that are still standing, as witness of their glorious past and wealth.
Despite its major decline after the spreading of the Black Plague (XIV century), Siena inhabitants always tried to fight for their independence and preserved their beauties still today.
Nonetheless, Siena is a true heaven on Earth for everyone willing to explore the countryside and breathtaking colorful landscapes, away from the busy tourist sites of the bigger cities. In fact, on your way to Siena, Val d’Orcia and Chianti Hills stretch in an endless circle around this stunning city.
1 Piazza del Campo and Palio
This one of a kind shell-shaped square called by locals Campo, is the place where twice a year during summertime takes place Siena Palio, a popular traditional horse race which dates back to XVII century. The so-called Palio consists of 3 laps of the Square: each horse taking part in the race belongs to a different area of the town called Contrada.
Piazza del Campo was built at the crossing section of the three main roads leading to Siena. It was meant to be the very place where civil and political life took place. Piazza del Campo is paved with a red bricks pattern which gives a shell shape to this uncommon location.
2 Siena Cathedral
Siena Cathedral, dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta, is for sure an unmissable stop along any itinerary in Siena. Formerly built during the IX Century, it was restored and turned into an iconic romanesque - gothic Cathedral whose external black and white stripes pattern refers to Siena coat of arms colors.
3 Old Town
Strolling around the narrow alleys in Siena is always a good idea. From the central Square, countless medieval alleys twist and turn around the main contrade, local neighborhoods, each of them showing a flag with different colors and symbols of their pride.
4 Mangia Tower
Mangia Tower is located in Piazza del Campo, it belongs to the city hall building.
This 87 meters tall tower, with its elegant shape covered with red bricks as the whole Square where it is placed, is the third tallest in Italy. According to local traditions, it takes the name from its first bellringer, who got the nickname of Mangiaguadagni, which refers to someone who squanders his money in useless purposes.
5 Taste local wines and food
In Siena, eating like a Tuscan is a must do especially if you are a foodie! Tuscan culinary traditions are made of simple ingredients mixed in a very easy way. Most of dishes stick to their original healthy recipe which has been handed down from father to son. Despite their simple way of cooking, tuscan dishes still keep their authentic strong flavours, which comes from the love they inhabitants have for their land.
As a result, local food is extremely tasty and genuine. One of the most renowned first courses is Pici: handmade big fresh spaghetti with rough shape, often seasoned with delicious wild boar sauce. As main course, the most typical dish in Siena is the Cinta Senese, a local pig grilled. Last but not least, do not forget to taste Panforte senese,a spiced honey cake with candies and dried fruits.
Regional wines like Chianti or Brunello di Montalcino are worldwide famous, so once in Siena why don’t you pay a visit to a local winery to taste the real ones?
All in all, discovering the charming town of Siena is not only a trip back in time but a journey through culture, tradition, art and food.
What are you most looking forward to experiencing on your trip to Siena? Share your experiences with us!