The medieval city of Siena is built on a hilly landscape and has therefore some sweeping views over the Tuscan countryside. Dive into Siena's maze of steep streets, and discover the city known for its horse races, its exquisite cuisine and its majestic tower with these travel tips:
See and do in Siena
Even if you have never been to Siena you will probably recognise the Piazza del Campo. Because this is the location where the world-famous horse race (the Palio) is held twice a year. If you want to experience this age-old tradition yourself, you should mark the 2nd of July or August the 16th in your agenda. This unique shaped piazza (square) is surrounded by palazzi, and the city hall with its iconic tower.
☞ Il Campo
Those without a fear of heights would probably like to visit Torre del Mangia, which is with its 87-metre hight, the third tallest ancient tower in Italy. Wherever you are in the city, this majestic tower pops up in your view almost everywhere.
The original 14th century Fonte Gaia (fountain of joy) has unfortunately suffered from wear and tear, and was replaced by a replica in 1858. Nevertheless, this version is beautiful and worth seeing.
☞ Il Campo
At many places in Siena you will encounter statues of the mythical she-wolf with Romulus and Remus. Because legend has it that Senius and Aschius, the sons of Remus, have founded Siena.
It took almost two centuries to build the impressive Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta (Cathedral of Our Lady's Assumption) which was completed mid 14th century. The façade of this Romanesque and Gothic cathedral is covered with white marble and decorations in red stone.
What catches the eye the most about the interior is the striped pattern and the marble mosaic inlay floor. Take some time to walk around this museological cathedral, because there is a lot to take in.
The marble mosaic floors are incredibly detailed, and even here you can find a depiction of Romulus and Remus. They are surrounded by the emblems of eight confederate cities of Central Italy.
The Piccolomini Library was built in 1492 in the former priest's house of the Duomo. It has a rich decor with frescoes, books, manuscripts, a marble sculpture and beautiful floor tiles.
The fourteenth century source 'Fonte Nuova d'Ovile' was used for watering and as a wash house. It has two big tanks. The first tank has got a 'tap', and the second one is fed by the overflow of the first. It is just a nice and soothing place to take a look, and imagine how domestic life would have been in days gone by.
From the public park 'Orto Dei Tolomei' you will have a magnificent view over Siena. From here you can also see the Piazza del Mercato with its historic covered market place. Here every 3rd Sunday of the month a small antique/flea market is held (except in August).
The Botanical Garden of Siena might not be the prettiest one you have ever seen, but if you need some peace and quiet, this might be a good place to spend some time. The garden contains more than 2.000 species, varying from the Mediterranean to the tropics. Its herbarium is operated by the University of Siena, and is an important instrument for teaching and study.
Siena is the perfect city to wander around without a specific goal. Just immerse yourself in the maze of steep streets and marvel at everything you come across.
Coffee and sweets in Siena
La Bottega del Caffè's little outside terrace is perfect for a quick espresso stop. Besides coffee, there are also some sandwiches and cocktails on the menu.
Bar & Pasticcerie Nannini Conca d'Oro has opened its doors in 1930, and has been a well-known meeting place ever since. Sienese pastries/biscuits; such as panforte, ricciarelli and cavallucci are still prepared according to ancient recipes and packaged by hand. We enjoyed a delicious cannolo siciliano and a ricciarelli together with our espresso.
How to get to Siena
Siena is centrally located in the Italian region of Tuscany.
The nearest airport is Firenze (FLR) Airport, which is about 55 kilometres (34 miles) away from Siena.
But the airport of Pisa (PSA) is the most popular for flights within Europe. Pisa's airport is approximately 85 km (53 mi) away from Siena.
Travellers arriving to Italy via an intercontinental flight will most likely arrive at the airport of Rome (FCO). The airport of Rome is about 185 km (115 mi) away from Siena.
A train will take you to Siena within:
1,5 hour from Firenze (Florence)
2 hours from Pisa
2,5 hours from Bologna (fast train)
3,5 hours from Rome (fast train)
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