Seldom have I felt a joy so great as when I roamed the streets of Tuscany’s second city, Siena.
This particular Mediterranean city is remarkable. It looks just like it stepped right out of a postcard. Siena is beautiful and very Italian.
Think of delicious wheat pasta with a delightful garlic-fuelled sauce, topped up with mouth-watering Tuscan red wine, in a cozy family restaurant on an old cobblestone Piazza in a picturesque towny city in Tuscany.
Combine this thought with a marvelous portion of the Tuscan sun, a commitment-free week and you’ll have a perfect stay in one of Italy’s most charming old towns.
Personally, I would choose the beauty of Siena over Florence anytime. Although am I not saying that you should skip Florence at all. Florence is beautiful. But, more city-like. Packed with tourists and filled with maybe a little bit too many impulses.
Siena, on the contrary, is charming, quiet and feels more authentic. Its sleepy, pastel-stoned streets are in medieval contrast to the grandeur of Florence’s Renaissance heart.
Every Pizza & Piazza Here is Wonderful
A real Italian city would not be legit without its typical piazzas. Where the deep romance of the city lives. Siena will offer you some of Italy’s finest. Especially ‘Il Campo’ at the heart of town. The Piazza Del Campo is considered as one of Europe’s finest medieval squares, with the fearless ‘Torre del Mangia’ that rises high above it into the sky. It’s hard to avoid the feeling of admiration when you dine at one of the comfy restaurants on the edge of the Piazza Del Campo.
Other than Il Campo, there are many other tiny squares in the city that are worth mentioning. Most of these small piazzas have the best restaurants which offer the most marvelous and beautiful pizzas & pastas.
Getting lost in Siena’s side streets feels like the best thing possible
A holiday should be aligned with freedom. A lot of it. Sometimes this alignment can be achieved by getting lost. Just for a while. Letting things go their way and trusting the fact that you’ll find your course again after a while is a supreme thing to do in Siena.
In this medieval paradise, you’ll want to have a couple of drinks and you’ll want to get lost after visiting most of the main activities in town. Look carefully and discover some of the many brilliant details of this Tuscan city when you roam around.
You’ll want to have the experience of wandering around here and to encounter an unforeseen sight on one of the three stunning hills of Siena. And there is no better way of having this experience than when walking around in an early evening atmosphere with shimmering streets lights that decorate the streets when you glance over a space filled with Sienese landmarks.
Follow the She-Wolf
Legend has it that Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, the sons of Remus. When Remus was murdered by his brother Romulus, his sons fled and settled on the hills where they founded the city. You’ll come across representations of the lupa or she-wolf all over town. She was the foster-mother of Remus and Romulus.
Why you need to visit the Duomo of Siena
The Duomo di Siena a.k.a. Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta serves as one of the top cultural landmarks in town. It was designed and completed between 1215 and 1263.
The Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and story goes that she helped Siena’s famous victory at Montaperti in 1260 against Florence. One of the most typical features of the Cathedral are the dark green and white columns and striking decorations. It seems like there’s not a single spot of blank space left on the inside and outside of the Duomo. You could easily spend a few hours exploring the interior.
Perfect Wine, Food, Landmarks & Calmness
Surrounded by opal-colored hills with eye-pleasing olives groves and famous vineyards like Chianti in the North, Siena won’t be just a citified town that will be easy to forget. With the wonderful Piazza Del Campo in the middle, Siena rests on three leg-friendly hills. The many curving alleyways and medium-steep steps will bring you to any place in the city.
So, forget about busy traffic, because most of the streets in Siena only allow pedestrians. Walking around in this ancient stone-build city will allow you to visit wonderful landmarks. Take your time to visit them. Don’t rush.
The Chianti area in the North, between Florence and Siena, is one of the most beautiful countrysides in Italy and a famous wine production area. You will also find beautiful towns here like San Gimignano and Monteriggioni. South of Siena, the Arbia valley leads to the hill-top town of Montalcino, home to the famous Brunello wine.
Last but not least, keep in mind that Tuscany is world famously known for its wonderful Italian dishes.
With such natural beauty & perfect gastronomy within easy reach by car or public transport, Siena is a good place to base yourself for a complete Tuscan experience.
Find out when to visit Siena & what to expect
While never as overrun as Florence, Siena sees plenty of visitors in the summer, but in October and November, the enervating heat has given way to the gentle warmth of the Tuscan autumn. This is when the real Siena comes to life.
Famed for the “Palio”, the annual historic horse-races that take place on 2 July and 16 August, Siena is also home to one of the oldest Universities in Europe, which ensures a vibrant Italian student atmosphere throughout the academic year.
Either the colder months as the more crowdy summer months are appealing for a visit to Siena. Autumn is perfect to visit landmarks, whilst the summer offers a lot of heat. Even the winter months can be great to enjoy Siena in all its glory.