Siena day trip: My Tuscany favorite place

The city of Siena, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the must-see destinations in Italy: a city with medieval history, beautiful architecture, and lively culture. It was my favorite place in Tuscany (yes, even more than San Gimignano).

Siena is right in the middle of Tuscany, rounded by Florence, Pisa, San Gimignano and Chianti, in other words, a perfect place to visit a lot of this region. You can reach it by car or train and just visit it. By car is very easy, Siena is full of car parking around the city (1day = 13€).

 

Duomo di Siena
Duomo di Siena

THE TOUR

The tour will start in front of the beautiful Basilica of San Domenico, which houses the relics of St. Catherine of Siena, then we will see the Sanctuary of St. Catherine, where she used to live with her family. Next, we will reach Piazza del Campo, the political nerve center of Siena, where you will learn about the history of the Palazzo Pubblico, today town hall and seat of the Civic Museum. In this square you will discover the tradition and history of the Palio, the horse race that has been held twice a year since the Middle Ages.

 

Baptistery
Baptistery

Here you can contemplate the Fonte Gaia (fountain) and discover the history of the mysterious “bottini”, a medieval subway aqueduct dug into the sandstone. You will hear amusing anecdotes about the Sienese search for the much sought-after river called “Diana”.

Then, stroll along the ancient Via Banchi di Sopra, a part of the ancient Via Francigena, the pilgrimage route that begins in northern Europe and ends in Rome. Along this street, you will see Palazzo Tolomei, which is one of the oldest private buildings in the city and Palazzo Salimbeni, home of the oldest public bank in Europe.

 

Salimbeni Palace
Salimbeni Palace

SIENA ITINERARY

1. Piazza del Campo
2. Palazzo Pubblico
3. Tolomei Palace
4. Salimbeni Palace
5. Basilica of San Domenico
6. Sanctuary of Saint Catherine
7. Siena Baptistery of San Giovanni
8. Duomo di Siena: ticket to visit 8€ (+ Baptistery 13€)

 

Facciatone
Facciatone

IL PALIO

The Palio is celebrated on July 2 and on August 16, is to Tuscany what the Carnival of Venice is to Italy, the most important moment of the city, gathering thousands and thousands of people who come to see the horse race of medieval origin. Not a fan of this type of show (I love animals) but you need to know what this is about.

 

Street prepared for Palio
Street prepared for Palio

The Palio festival lasts four days, the last day being the day of the horse races, and the preceding days serve as preparation for the race. On the first day, the draw is made and all the participants are drawn (which means that some riders and horses that have been preparing for the whole year do not get to participate). In those first three days several training races are held, morning and afternoon, and on the same day of the Palio the last one is held, in which the riders do not force the horses, hence the derogatory name “provaccia”.

WHAT IS NEXT FROM SIENA

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