When you hear about the history of Siena, you may think you’ve walked into the pages of a novel, but in reality the Sienese culture is richer than anything that can be imagined. Settled in rural Tuscany, Siena is a city of culture, art and religion. Famous for its Palio, the city is small, but with the tall buildings and maze of cobbled streets, visitors can expect to see history everywhere they go.
Piazza del Duomo
Siena is a city that is worth exploring. At the centre is the Piazza del Campo where the Palazzo Publico is situated. When the piazza is not being used for horse racing, it becomes a relaxed town centre. Surrounded by plenty of cafes and restaurants, the piazza is the perfect place to sit and watch the day go by. In the evenings, students from the university meet there and with only a few bars, the nightlife is gentle, unlike that of its larger Tuscan neighbour, Florence.
Every Italian city’s cathedral is worth a visit, and Siena’s is no exception. Decorated with black and white marble, the gothic Duomo stands out from the rest of the city’s red and brown bricks. Situated in the Piazza del Duomo, visitors can appreciate the exterior alone, but it is worth looking at the artistic treasures that lay within. A ticket can be bought that also allows entrance to the baptistery and the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, which houses original works of art created for Florence’s cathedral.
With June and August being some of Tuscany’s busiest and hottest months, a stay in the city might seem too crowded. Luckily, you can escape to somesituated in the peaceful Province of Siena. Siena is just one hour’s drive from Florence, home to Michelangelo’s David and the Uffizi Gallery, so it is easy to plan a day trip to another famous Tuscan city, but book tickets in advance to avoid larger queues and disappointment.
Palio di Sienna
Each year, thousands of people flock to the walled city of Siena to watch one of the quickest horse races in the world. Lasting only 90 seconds, the Palio di Siena is excitingly an fast paced race and is well known for its jockey’s competitive tactics. A vital part of Sienese culture, two races take place a year on the 2nd July and August 16th, both of which are dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Competitors come from the 17 Contrade of the city, whose names come from a mixture of mythology and tradition. The entire population of Siena take to the Piazza del Campo to watch the Palio race and it is taken incredibly seriously. Visitors can expect to see members of each Contrada marching the streets with pride in noisy celebrations that are cloaked in medieval tradition. A Impressive displays by Alfieri flag wavers happen before the race begins and although none of the festivities are a display solely for tourists, visitors are welcome to the city to marvel at the atmosphere.
Beth Stubbings writes for. She thinks that visiting Siena is the perfect cultural getaway.