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 and it looks just like it stepped out of a postcard. Siena is beautiful and very Italian.
Think of delicious wheat pasta with a delightful tomato, garlic and cheese fuelled sauce, topped up with mouth-watering Tuscan red wine. You’re sitting in a cozy family restaurant on an old cobblestone Piazza, surrounded by historical buildings, in the heart of a city Tuscany. That’s how I reimagine the time when I was in Siena.
Combine this thought with a healthy amount of the Tuscan sun, a commitment-free week and you’ll have a perfect stay in one of Italy’s most charming old cities.
Personally, I would choose the beauty of Siena over Florence anytime. Although am I not saying that you should skip Florence. Florence is beautiful. But, it feels like a bigger city and it’s packed with tourists, more people walk its streets and there are more sounds.
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 wouldn’t feel the same without its typical piazzas. These squares are where you’ll find the deeper romance of an Italian city. Siena has some of Italy’s finest piazza’s. 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 squares in the city that are worth mentioning. Often the smallest piazzas have the most charming and best restaurants with the best Italian food.
Getting lost in Siena’s side streets feels like the best thing possible
A holiday should be aligned with freedom. A lot of it. Allowing yourself to get lost can sometimes help you with achieving this feeling of freedom. Just for a while. Letting things go their way and trusting the fact that you’ll find your route again after a while is a supreme thing to do in Siena. (Tip: Always write down the name of the place where you are staying. Just in case, so you can ask around for the way)
In this medieval paradise, I had a lot of fun after having a couple of drinks and allowing myself to get a bit lost after that.
Look around carefully when you wander around and discover some of the many brilliant details of this Tuscan city.
You’ll want to have the experience of exploring Siena and to find out that you’re located on one of the three hills of the city. And that you’ll see one of the other hills from that point of view.
There is no better way of having a better experience than when you walk around in Siena in the early evening. Around this time the street lights shimmer and they decorate the streets of Siena with bright golden light.
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 (mostly statues) 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 city in Tuscany 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 in calmness.
Don’t worry 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 quite a few wonderful points of interest. Take your time to visit them. Don’t rush.
In the area, you’ll find the Chianti area in the North, between Florence and Siena, which 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.
Tip: keep in mind that Tuscany is world famous for its wonderful Italian food. You’ll notice that the food is amazing when you visit Siena.
As Tuscany is a very beautiful Italian region with a great gastronomy. And there are quite a few of villages you’ll want to visit on your holiday. Siena is a good place to base yourself as it’s located at the heart of Tuscany.
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 temperatures do allow a better experience for visiting landmarks as the summer can offer a lot of heat. Keep in mind that even the mild winter months can be great to enjoy Siena in all its glory.