Beautiful Town, Famous for its Horse Race
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Siena is a medieval town in Tuscany. On its main square, the Piazza del Campo, there are famous horse races twice a year, on July 2nd and August 16th. But every other day of the year you can enjoy 'La Dolce Vita' (the good life) on one of its many terraces. I have listed the sights of Siena in this article. You will also find more information on tours and accommodations.
The town is located in the heart of Tuscany. The old town has rightly been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It resembles very much the city centre it was hundreds of years ago. It’s a fabulous place to get lost in its many narrow streets, meandering past small bars and restaurants and enjoying a drink at a terrace. This is Italy at its finest.
Siena Cathedral is one of the most important pieces of Gothic architecture in all of Italy. Both the exterior and interior of this building are sublime. The facade and exterior of the cathedral has an abundance of white stone and marble design features. You can also see several sublime frescoes.
It was originally built in the 13th century. The cathedral has stood as an icon of the city for hundreds of years. The location is the Piazza del Duomo in the historic city center. The interior of the church is also worth seeing. Every corner is decorated; with marble arches to the ornate golden dome and the frescoes above the main altar.
Piazza del Campo is undoubtedly Siena's main square. This beautiful open square contains some simply stunning architecture and is always bustling with local life and tourism. What makes this square so inviting are the curved lines of the buildings that create a private and friendly feel.
Striking buildings on the square are the gigantic Torre del Mangia, the delightful Palazzo Pubblico and the Fountain of Gaia. Many people start their tour of Siena from this point. It also contains an array of cafes, restaurants and shops. The medieval architecture, lively atmosphere and interesting shape of the square make it a top attraction.
Located in Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Pubblico is one of the most renowned structures in Siena. Notable for its amazing architecture and the dominant Torre del Mangia. Built in the 13th century, this medieval building served as the home of Siena's Republican government.
The exterior has an Italian Gothic design with two-tone stone cladding and an abundance of beautiful arched windows.In addition, the interior of the palace contains some absolutely stunning frescoes. Almost all the main rooms are covered with ornate decorations and many paintings.
Guided tours of the palace interior are possible. Keep in mind that you have to climb more than two hundred steps to reach the top. Believe me, the reward is worth it. From the top you have a good view of the Piazza del Campo and the wonderful Tuscan landscape.
This slender 102-meter tower stands proudly at the end of the Palazzo Pubblico and is one of the best-known attractions in the city. This tower was built at the same time as the palace and has a similar two-tone design with a white stone crown. It is possible to walk to the top of the tower for unparalleled views over the city of Siena.
Piazza Salimbeni is a prominent square in the center of Siena. It is notable for still housing the offices of one of the first banking houses in Europe; the Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. It is also surrounded by the following palaces: Palazzo Tantucci, Palazzo Salimbeni and Palazzo Spannocchi.
The facades of the palace were harmonized in the neo-Gothic style by the architect Giuseppe Partini in the nineteenth century. In the center of the square is the statue of Sallustio Bandini, a Sienese priest and one of the first Italian economists, sculpted by Tito Sarrocchi in 1882.
To really experience the city, staying for a couple of days is recommendable. Fortunately, there are several small-scale hotels, cozy apartments and cheap hostels. You can easily book this online. Make sure you are on time, then the prices are lower. And you prevent everything from being fully booked.
Find the best accommodations in Siena
The official name is Palio di Siena. It is one of Tuscany's most popular summer events. With ancient origins, Italy's most famous horse race takes place twice a year. This takes place in Piazza del Campo, Siena's main medieval shell-shaped square.
The Palio has been a competition between the city districts for centuries, the so-called contrade. This historical tradition dates back to 1633, but every year Siena relives the event with the zeal of the past.
Do you want to visit the famous horse event? Then make sure you book your hotel a year in advance, because they are always fully booked the fastest. Check the official website for the current dates and tickets.
Like other cities in Tuscany, Siena was first inhabited by Etruscan tribes and became a city during the Roman reign of Emperor Augustus. Being away from major roads, the city did not prosper during Roman times. In the time of the Longobards, the city developed and eventually became the powerful Republic of Siena that lasted for hundreds of years.
In the following years, Siena continued to prosper and today it mainly depends on the tourist and agricultural industries. For those who visit Siena, there is an abundance of beautiful architecture. The city also has a range of fine museums and galleries, such as the Siena Civic Museum and the National Gallery.
Walking around you will encounter the world famous she-wolf. According to legend, Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus and cousin of Romulus. Therefore, the symbol of Siena is a she-wolf breastfeeding Romulus and Remus. You can see her at the Duomo and on the magnificent mosaic floor in the Duomo. You will also encounter her in and around the Palazzo Pubblico and at the city walls.