Siena is located just 70 km south of Florence - this Tuscan town is a magnet for travelers who want to absorb outstanding medieval architecture and magnificent art. As one of the most famous Italian cities and listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO – Siena is famous for its Palio that takes place twice a year, and for its characteristic narrow streets flanked by brick buildings. Within each contrada lie vibrant streets populated with artisanal boutiques, sweet-smelling pastry shops and tempting restaurants. It's a feast for the senses and an essential stop on every Tuscan itinerary.
8 PLACES TO VISIT
1.BASILICA DI SAN DOMENICO
The only remains of the original basilica dating back to 1226 are some part of the nave and interior roof, including the beams. The church is sometimes referred to as St. Catherine’s since she lived most of her life here; until she was canonized in 1461. Her head and thumb are contained in a gilt case; the rest of her body is in Rome. In one of the chapels you can see her portrait while another presents frescoes of her life. Throughout the basilica you can also view notable paintings, including a couple of the Madonna and Child.
The fountain dates back to the mid-14th century, with water being piped in from 24 km away. The fountain is located at the center of Siena at the Piazza del Campo. The side reliefs, sculptured from marble, depict scenes from Genesis and the Wolves spouting water represent Romulus and Remus. A statue of the Madonna and Child can be seen in the center section.
3.MUSEO DELL’OPERA METROPOLITANA
Originally a part of a cathedral, but construction stopped with the Black Death in 1348. The building today serves as a museum which centered around cathedral art, including statues carved by the architect Pitano in the 13th century. On exhibit is parts of the Duomo and outstanding works by Donatello and Ducci, whose glittering alter piece, Maesta, is considered a masterpiece by early Siena artists.At the top of the building on the terrace you can get panoramic views of Siena
4.TORRE DEL MANGIA
The construction of the tower started in 1338 and was finished 10 years later. As the second largest building in Italy at 102meters, the tower was supposed to be the same height as the cathedral – to send a message that the state and church are equals in power. Statuary and a bell top the tower, which provides panoramic views of Siena.
5.DUOMO DI SIENA
Dating back to the 1245, the massive church is ornate inside and out. The half-finished walls in the new cathedral is a reminder of the time when the church farmers wanted to enlarge the church, but the Black Death put an end to those plans during the 14th century. Dedicated to Saint Mary the church is also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary. The duomo is an outstanding example of Italian Gothic architecture, from the striped columns and the ornately decorated arcades to the decorative flooring and works of art.
6.PIAZZA DEL CAMPO
The Piazza has its origins as a 13th century marketplace where three roads come together. It is located in the heart of the historic center and is considered as one of Europe’s best medieval square. Surrounding the square you can visit the Palazzo Pubblico, Torre del Mangia and Fonte Gaia.
The magnificent interior is dating back from the early 16th century. (Book is not allowed to be check). The library was built for Francesco Todeschini Piccolomin who later become Pope Pius II and is situated inside the Siena Cathedral. On exhibit is some decorative manuscripts, but the main thing to see are the wonderful frescoes painted by Pinturicchio. The colorful frescoes, with a unique perspective, represent the life of Pope Piss II, from ambassador to cardinal to pope.
8.PALAZZO PUBBLICO & CIVIC MUSEUM
The purpose for what it was built 700 years earlier, today it still serves – to be a seat for the government of Siena. This Gothic architecture buildings was originally used by the Council of Nine, made up of middle class residents who served two months at a time, and today functions as Siena’s city hall. You can view the room where the nine stayed during there stint in office. The palazzo’s crenellated top gives it a castle-like appearance. Inside the civic museum you can see the stunning frescoes that depict Siena life in centuries gone by.
Siena is not such a compact destination, and while most of its sought-after highlights are located in close proximity to each other, you might need to resort to several means of getting around – bus, train, car, taxi, bike or on foot.
Siena has a temperate climate. To experience the beauty of the Tuscan countryside, one should visit this region in May or June. As far as temperature is concerned, autumns are very pleasant. From October rain showers start and the weather starts getting colder. Spring brings better weather and this is the time for street festivals here.