In many ways Siena, Tuscany is the most perfect Italian city.
Siena looks exactly how you imagine a beautiful ancient Italian city to look, and has been expertly preserved over the years. It has sumptuous weather for most of the year. It has food to die for and the inhabitants will welcome you like they would their own family. But what are the very best things to do while you’re in town?
Palio of Siena
Two dates stand out in Siena more than any other. These dates are not only on the top list in Siena but also in Italy and possibly the whole of Europe too. July 2nd and August 16th – the famous Palio horse race. It’s something you will have undoubtedly seen before but perhaps didn’t know what it was. To be it simply, this is an event which has been running for around 350 years and is a 90 second horse race on a circular dirt track in the city centre on the Piazza del Campo, where ten horsemen charge to the finish line in order to gain their ward, or Contrande, the noble victory prize. The costumes are all colours of the rainbow and the patterns cover the riders and each of their unique flags, which they toss up into the air in a pre-match performance ritual. Make sure you plan your trip around the Palio. But be warned, it gets very busy in town during those weeks.
Duomo of Siena
When tourists hear the word duomo upon visiting Italy they know they are in for a treat. They know their necks might start to ache again because of all the looking up. But when you have so many wonderful large churches in a country, they sometimes tend to merge into one or become less wonderful because one gets accustomed to them. When you arrive at this one in Siena, this unlikely to happen. Originally the structure was completed in 1263 but there have been a number of additions over the years, particularly in the Gothic eras. The exterior boasts a huge and very noticeable bell tower; the black and white marble design looks quite like a liquorice sweet. Inside you can’t help but notice the gorgeous stained glass depiction of the last supper by Pastorino de’ Pastorini from 1549. Then those will a soft spot for mosaic flooring won’t be disappointed with this duomo. Over a two hundred year period over forty artists have all added a touch of genius to more or less the entire floor of the cathedral, with various marble mosaic scenes ranging from The Wheel of Fortune to the She-Wolf of Siena.
Top 5 Hotels in Siena, Tuscany :
- Hotel Italia – 2-star hotel – double room from €55
- Hotel Santa Caterina – -star hotel – double room from €75
- Bed & Breakfast Palazzo Masi – double room from €80
- Bed & Breakfast La Coperta Ricamata – double room from €80
- Hotel Villa Elda – 3-star hotel – double room from €89
Photo of Siena, Tuscany, by PhillipC