Are you planning to go on a trip to Italy? If you are, then I bet that you have already put Rome, Pisa, Milan, and Florence on your travel bucket list. But have you ever considered going to the medieval city of Siena in Tuscany? Siena is only an hour away from Florence, and it is a definite must-see! Read on to find out why.
Where is Siena, Italy?
Siena is an enchanting city in Central Tuscany. It is a definite must-see for its medieval architecture and charm. It is a small city (50,000) in the heart of Tuscany and lies between the Chianti area, the “crete senesi” (an area of rolling clay hills that change colour according to the season), the Mar Tireno and the Florentine area.
A Little Bit of History
Siena was founded by the Romans during the reign of Octavian Augustus. The Roman origins of the town explain why the town chose for itself the She-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus as part of its coats of arms. Christianity reached Sienese territory towards the beginning of the IV century. After the first Barbarian invasions, Siena became part of the Lombard dominions. In 774, Siena was overrun by Frankish administrators, who married into the Lombard families. They founded the abbeys and castles all over the Sienese territory. Money-lending and exchange activities brought the city great prosperity, and the largest European banking company was created in the XIII century. The large Sienese hospital of S. Maria della Scala had been founded by the cathedral canons prior to the year one thousand. Caterina Benincasa (St. Catherine of Siena) lived during the period of 1350s when the “Monti” or groups of powerful families took over the government. Under the Medici family, Siena was unleashed in passionate allegiance to the respective contrada of each native of Siena. Each Sienese is attached towards his or her contrada and in the passionate involvement in the Palio, the most evident example of the exuberant nature of Siena’s citizens.
(Source: Siena New Practical Guide, 2016)
The Piazza del Campo is one of the most fascinating main squares in Europe. What makes it unique is that the middle of the square is paved with hand-made bricks and laid in a herringbone pattern. This magnificent shell-shaped square was laid out by the Consiglio dei Nove in the mid-14th century. Nearly all the important events in Siena’s history have taken place in or around that square. It is where the world-famous, super exciting Palio horse race is held twice a year (July 2 and August 16). Here you will also find the striking Palazzo Pubblico. The Torre del Mangia is one of the buildings overlooking the shell-shaped plaza. It is located within the historic center of Siena, which was a nominated UNESCO protected site (1995).
What You Will Love About Siena
- You will love strolling through the cobblestone streets. The city center has many charming shops, restaurants, and cafes. Most cars are not allowed inside the city center so you can enjoy a relaxing afternoon or early evening stroll with your family. I definitely recommend the evening walking tour where you can appreciate the beauty of the city at night! You will enjoy the picturesque view of the entire city if you go to the top of the wall (Fortezza).
2. Another thing to love about Siena is the local Tuscan cuisine. The recipes are simple but the food is amazing! I am not an excellent cook, but my cooking has definitely improved just by using the fresh ingredients! I recommend dining at Bar La Favorita Siena at the City Center. Another favorite is the Orto de Pecci, a farm with a restaurant that serves authentic Tuscan cuisine. If you have small children, this is the place to go! Kids will enjoy seeing the ducks, goats, chickens, and peacocks in the surrounding areas.
3. Good news for parents with small children: Siena is a kid-friendly city! You will find many kid-friendly places such as parks and playgrounds all around the city center. Children can enjoy the wide open space at the Piazza del Campo while they play with the pigeons. The Siena Botanical Garden (Orto Botanico dell’Universita di Siena) is a must-see for nature lovers. Another place to visit is the Orto de Pecci restaurant and farm where you can enjoy a nice lunch with a picturesque view of Siena.
How Can You Reach Siena?
By Air: The nearest airports are in Florence (Aeroporto Amerigo Vespucci) and in Pisa (Aeroporto Galileo Galilei)
By Train: Trains are a reliable and convenient method of transport in Italy. There are several types of trains. Some stop at all stations, such as regionale or interregionale. Other faster trains, such as the Intercity (IC) or EuroCity (EC), stop only at major cities. Remember to buy your ticket and register it in the small yellow machines at the head of each platform before you enter the train.
By Bus: Bus connections to cities such as Florence, Grosseto, Milan, and Rome are provided by Train, Sita, Sena and Rama.
By Car (www.autostrade.it): Connections to the A1 Milan-Rome-Naples motorway:
From North: Exit Firenze Certosa, then proceed to the Firenze-Siena highway
From South: Exit Valdarno, then proceed on the 408 Chiantigana road in the direction Montevarchi-Gaiole-Siena. Exit Valdichiana, then proceed on the Bettole-Siena highway. Exit Chiusi, then proceed on the SS 146 and take the SR2.
Visit Siena, Italy in May 2019!
Grazie mille, Kristie, Jasmine and Kelly for this #DolceVitaBloggers January link-up! Read this to find out how you can join the monthly link-up for lovers of Italy.