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About city Gallery Where to stay

Siena is a city in Tuscany that you absolutely must see. And not just because the Old Town of this little city, which thanks to its unique architecture is a UNESCO-protected site, but also because Siena is home to the world’s oldest operating bank and a highly competitive horse racing tradition that pits entire neighbourhoods against each other. Five hundred years ago, Siena distinguished itself as Tuscany’s oldest autonomous city.

The city is located in the middle of Tuscany on the top of a low hill, and is home to around 50,000 people. Their main occupation is agriculture, which is hardly a surprising thing, considering that Siena, situated far from any highway or large city, is surrounded by softly undulating hills, full of vineyards, olive fields, pastures and vegetable plots. Industry never took hold here.

Legend has it that Siena was established by Senius, the son of Rome’s founding father Remus, something to keep in mind when you see sculptures depicting the famous Remulus and Romus drinking from a she-wolf. The history of Siena is long, convoluted and full of wars with neighbouring provinces, especially Florence. Historians claim that the oldest noble families of Siena appeared in the 7th century CE, and that the autonomous Republic of Siena lasted from the 11th century to 1555, when it was finally conquered by Cosimo I de Medici – the ruler of Florence. Up until the unification of Italy in the 19th century, Siena belonged to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Il Campo, Siena, Italy
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Il Campo, Siena, Italy

Arguably, the most famous and one of the most beautiful places in the city’s Old Town is the Piazza del Campo, often hailed as the one of the prettiest squares in the world. One important reason for that is the square’s unique shape that resembles an upside-down sink (i.e., it’s a semi-circular and concave). Piazza del Campo has been a lively city centre since the 13th century, where city fairs, solemn celebrations and the legendary Palio di Siena horse race used to take place. During the summer, it’s fun to lie down on the pavement and watch the sun-bathing Italians. On hot summer afternoons, both the tourists and the locals rejoice in the marble fountain that was built here in at the turn of the 15th century.

The square delights the millions of tourists who come here not just with its unusual shape, but also with the surrounding palace, the Palazzo Pubblico, which has been the seat of the local government since the 14th century. There was even a law that prohibited people from building a larger and more beautiful palace than the Palazzo Pubblico. Once here, visit the Museo Ovico where you will find some breathtaking medieval and Renaissance-style interiors, and the world-famous Ambrogio Lorenzetti allegorical fresco of 1337 depicting good and bad forms of government.

Sienas city hall at night
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Sienas city hall at night

Moreover, the Palazzo boasts an 88-metre-high medieval tower, which is considered to be the second-highest tower in Italy. If you manage to surmount its 400 steps, you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view of the city and its surroundings. According to legend, before the construction of the tower began, its foundation was sprinkled with several lucky coins and rocks that contained magical inscriptions and were supposed to protect the tower from storms and various other misfortunes.

Siena Italy and the famous square of Il Campo
Photo taken by 123rf.com.  Siena Italy and the famous square of Il Campo

The Via di Città, surrounded by the most beautiful buildings of the city, stretches all across the Old Town and attracts tourist not just with its prestigious shops, but also with its various diners, good coffee and fresh-croissant-scented cafés. Here you can also find music and art academies, and a contemporary arts centre, located inside the Palazzo Piccolomini.

Where to stay

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