Holiday Villas and Small Hotels in Tuscany

Visit Siena

The first time that I visited Siena was during a cold winter a few years ago. I remember a Tuscan friend who lived in the city had always talked about Siena’s beauty, great cultural interest, beautiful surroundings and diverse selection of restaurants.

Until then all I had seen of Siena was the broadcast of Palio di Siena (a tradition of horse racing that is held twice a year in Siena). I remember it like it was yesterday the overwhelming impression as I set foot in the famous Piazza del Campo.

The breathtaking beauty of the place around you leaves you speechless. I remember when I saw it it seemed impossible that the stands full of people and horses and all the great infrastructure that the Palio requires could fit. The area is not vast and yet in July and August this square accommodates the most awaited event of the year for all the Sienese, and unleashes a rivalry worthy of the best Barça vs. Madrid match; to use a sports analogy.

During the ride my friend explained that according to the legend, Siena was founded by Senio, son of Remus, and the wolves that we will find on our walks through the city are symbolic of Senio.

Siena is a beautiful city, which in contrast to what has happened in many other parts of the world has not suffered from landscape destruction and urbanisation. Fortunately, in this regard, the strict rules of medieval times have kept intact the historical beauty of a city that is a real feast for the eyes. One of the things I liked the most is that all roads of the historic center lead to Piazza del Campo, making it easy to navigate yourself around the city and it means that you can enjoy this unique shell-shaped square more than once.

If you are in town for a few days do not forget to sit in one of the terraces in the square to see the light at the end of the day as it reflects off the walls of the city and the majestic and stylized Torre del Mangia.

If you do not suffer from vertigo you have to visit the bell tower, the views from the top are outstanding. At the bottom of the tower. After coming down from the Tower it is a must to visit Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall which was built in 1310 and with its red brick and gray travertine it is simply stunning.

If you have time a visit to the Museum at Palazzo Pubblico Dell'Opera is worth it, otherwise you have to make a flying visit to the Duomo of Siena located in Castelvecchio, the oldest part of the city. You can not leave without seeing the impressive work that creates conflicts of opinion between the Sienese who worship there and those who consider it a bit ostentatious in its design. Its bands of black and white marble featured on this cathedral date back to 1220 and it never leaves anyone indifferent ...The interior is a mixture of all possible styles, oriental, Byzantine, Gothic and Romanesque.

Right in front of the Duomo is the Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala, former hospital for pilgrims. It now houses the Archaeological Museum with a large collection of Etruscan and Roman remains.

After these cultural touches of our visit I propose that you dedicate time to take a walk in the beautiful, hilly streets of the city. In this way you will get to know the different neighborhoods - contrade - that at the time of the Palio cease to live peacefully and become rivals. It is very curious to go about observing the marble ceramic plates that are in each district and see what they suggest and indicate(dolphin, caterpillar, giraffe, goose, etc..).

When fatigue is taking hold I recommend you regain your strength with a terrific Nannini cappuccino, the most famous cafe of the city. Then accompany your coffee with a little sweet Panforte, which is typical of Siena, which is a delicious bread filled with candied fruit, nuts, figs, ...and is truly delectable!

If your visit is during the autumn or winter months the best way to recuperate from the cold and fatigue is to take a taste of the famous "Ribollita Toscana"; a delicious vegetable soup typical of the area which is a real treat for the senses. Accompany this with some Tuscan wine and this is without a doubt the best "medicine" to recover energy and continue with the journey. As the kitchen is not my area of expertise II will ask my companion blogger, and gourmet expert, to provide you with the recipe for this nutritious and exquisite Tuscan specialty.

In the vicinity of Siena there are a great deal of charming Tuscan farmhouse holidays. From which you can base yourself and organize your trip to Siena and many other beautiful locations of the region.

Have fun!


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