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Siena would have to be one of the most popular enchanting, small towns in Italy. It has everything a tourist could want – a hilltop view to die for, medieval walls, moats, history, art, and Il Palio – an amazing horse race around its shell shaped piazza. It is small enough to walk around in a morning and has beautiful shops as well as a university attracting the young. It is the second largest town of Tuscany after the capital Florence.
Siena is an hour from Florence and makes for a great base to explore Tuscany if you wish to stay in a small town. The city’s reddish-brown soil, rich in ferric oxide deposits, gave its name to the pigment ‘burnt Siena’, so beloved by the great master painters, notably Giovanni Pisano. Their works can be seen today in several of the city’s galleries. the city boasts other important interesting things as the University, the ancient Hospital, turned into the museum “Santa Maria della Scala”, the Chigiana musical academy, and the base and heart of bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, the most famous and ancient bank, active from 1472.
Siena is also a great town in which to study Italian language for which there are many schools in which to learn. Ask us about the courses and we can book our lovely apartment in Siena for you.
Book way ahead with Passion for Italy Travel – at least eight months, if you wish to attend Il Palio, Tuscany’s famous horse race occurring on two dates, 2 July and 16 August, where the fiercely competitive 17 districts – Contrada, vie to have their horse win.
Over 100,000 people cram into a very small area – the Piazza del Campo and all the locals dress in their historic costumes representing their contrada. It is a great cultural experience.
In Siena We Recommend…
Should you be brave enough to climb the hundreds of spiral steps to the top of the bell tower of the Palazzo Comunale , the view is worth a thousand photos over the verdant rolling hills.
Stay at one of our beautiful historical apartment on Piazza del Campo or one of our divine villas in the countryside and make day trips to the city. Make sure you remember which ‘Porta” – town gate you enter Siena by, as there are many and it is easy to lose direction as the city is oval shaped on top of the hill.
Walk to some great restaurants at night and sit in the Piazza del Campo people watching for an aperativ at sunset – it is always full of activity.
Take one of our wonderful Day Tours in Tuscany to see all the little medieval hilltop villages in the Val d’Orcia and near Montalcino.
Go to the Palio in July and August – an event not to be missed but book eight months ahead please.
The city is the ideal starting point for those who travel with car, motorbike and bicycle (and for who loves trekking!) to visit all the most famous area of Tuscany around Siena: from north to south, so different and so beautiful. In the south area we suggest to visit Val d’Orcia, full of panoramic streets that lead to Buonconvento, San Quirico d’Orcia, Pienza (a little architectural treasure) and Montepulciano and Montalcino, Brunello wine’s home, up to Monte Amiata’s top.
Take day trips to the lovely village of San Gimignano and tour around the Chianti Wine Region visiting the cellar doors.
Photo credits to Deon Payne for his wonderful photos of Siena.
Getting There And Around
Train – the railway station is 2km walk outside the historic centre, 5 minutes by bus.
Bus – inter-city buses arrive/depart Piazza Antonio Gramsci, a block from the pedestrian zone.
Car – parking is not permitted in the historic centre – click here to view the map for parking information. Make a note of which Porta (gate) you enter the city as by the end of the day it can be easy to forget.
Siena is located in Tuscany, in the centre of Italy.