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Siena Travel Guide

Florence is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Tuscan region of Italy, followed closely by Pisa, where the famous leaning tower can be found, and Cortona, which has gained a lot of fame via a movie starring Diane Lane. There is one Tuscan city however that some people fail to add to their list of go-to places when they come to this part of Italy, and that is Siena.

If you are into the Medieval Period, love gothic architecture, and want to take a step back into time while enjoying the best that the region has to offer, then Siena is one city you should not miss visiting. It is a scenic university town that is built upon three hills, and is surrounded by ancient walls, Chianti vineyards, and olive trees. Among its many attractions are well-preserved structures that date back to the 11th century. Walking around this city will make you feel that you have indeed traveled back in time.

Where to Go and What to See

Siena has a treasure trove of sights for you to see and interesting places for you to go to. When it comes to sightseeing, the number of age-old buildings you can marvel at here is rather astounding. Some of the most popular ones in the city include the following:

The Duomo

The Duomo di Siena is a church in the city that has been around since the medieval times. Also called the Siena Cathedral, this majestic edifice was designed and completed in the early to mid-1200s, and was built on what actually is the former site of an old Roman temple. The cathedral showcases the marvelous talents of Renaissance and Medieval artists as well as architects such as Nicola Pisano, Pinturicchio, Giovanni Pisano, and Libreria Piccolomini.  Other notable names that contributed to the grandeur and beauty of this structure include Michelangelo, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, and Donatello.

Piazza Del Campo

Also called Il Campo by locals, this piazza has been the social and civic center of Siena since the mid-12th century. It is also another popular structure built upon an old similar one, much like the Duomo, but this one is built on top of an old Roman marketplace. The piazza is a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike, with the perimeter dotted with cafes where people can relax and watch the day go by as they chat with friends and acquaintances.

Pinacoteca Nazionale

Art lovers will definitely be enthralled by the Pinacoteca Nazionale, with its Renaissance and Medieval paintings by various Italian artists. The art pieces that you will find here include those made by Bartolo di Fredi, Simone Martini, and Guido da Siena, to mention a few. This national gallery was first established in the early 1930s and is located in the Brigidi and Buonsignori palaces, which is located in the heart of the city. This gallery is said to have the largest collection of Sienese paintings that come with gold backgrounds, which are notably from the 14th and 15th century.

How to Get Around

Much like other places in Italy, the best way for you to enjoy this city is by foot. Walk around on the cobblestoned streets and marvel at the well-preserved ancient buildings around you. If you find that walking around all day is not your thing, you can actually go around in a Vespa, or any other scooter for that matter, to see and explore the city in a faster and easier manner.

Taking a car to Siena will only be more of a hassle than a convenience since you will need special permits to enter specific parts of the city with such a vehicle. You will also need to locate the parking lots in the city for you to be able to park your car without having to worry about fines, although there are a few street parking spaces that you can also park at. Parking rates are hourly, with day parking passes and 3-day parking passes also available for those who might be returning to these parking facilities frequently.

What to Do

Aside from the general sightseeing and tours, you might want to try experiencing events and activities that only happen in Siena. If you find yourself in this medieval city in July or August, you might want to check out the Palio di Siena, which is a bareback horserace that happens in honor of the Virgin Mary. You can also go on a wine tasting tour of some of the wineries nearby with expert guides and a select few tourists with the same love of wine as yourself.

You can also try to learn how to cook a few Tuscan dishes with cooking lessons in the city. Local chefs can teach you how to create some of the most well-known Tuscan favorites around, like bruschetta, pici, crostini, and hand-made pasta. Bring home more than just memories of this majestic ancient city and surprise family as well as friends with an authentic Tuscan meal with what you learn from these cooking lessons here.

If you find that these activities, like the Palio di Siena, and the locales, like the Duomo, are very interesting to you, why not schedule a trip to Siena, Italy today? Call us at 800.955.4418 to find out more about our escorted trips and our customizable trips to Italy.  


More Attractions in Siena

MontalcinoPiccolomini Library
MonteriggioniSanta Maria della Scala
Palio di SienaSan Gimignano
Piazza del Campo