Let's Visit Siena, Italy!
Spending a few days in Siena, Italy, is a must for anyone who loves history, culture, and breathtaking scenery. This medieval city is located in the heart of Tuscany and is renowned for its beautiful architecture, stunning piazzas, and its famous horse race, the Palio. If you are a budget traveller, Siena has much to offer, and you can make the most of your trip by taking advantage of the city's many free and low-cost attractions, along with its delicious food and drink. ATB#1 is a sucker for medieval anything, so on one of our first shared trip to Italy, Siena was put on the itinerary early. Although both of us had been to Italy previously (especially Italian-born Mady who visited family annually), neither of us had been before. We enjoyed the city so much that it earned a place on a subsequent trip.
Getting to the Old City from the Train Station
The first step in exploring Siena is to get to the old city from the train station. The Siena Train Station is located just outside the city walls, and the old city can be reached on foot in about 20 minutes. From the train station, simply follow the signs for the historic center, and you will soon find yourself on Via di Città, the main road leading into the old city.
If you have a lot of luggage, you can take a taxi from the train station to the old city, which will take about 5 minutes and cost around €10. Not all the streets in the old city are accessible to vehicles, so don't expect to be dropped right in front of the door to your digs.
History and Culture
Siena has a rich and fascinating history, dating back to the Middle Ages. The city was once a powerful rival of Florence and played a major role in the economic, political, and cultural life of Tuscany. Today, Siena is one of Italy's most beautiful cities, and its old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visitors can explore its narrow streets, beautiful squares, and magnificent churches, as well as its museums, which showcase the city's rich history and culture.
The Old City of Siena
The old city of Siena is a stunning and well-preserved medieval city that is rich in history, culture, and architectural beauty. Its unique design, which is characterized by narrow streets, steep hills, and beautifully-crafted buildings, has earned Siena a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Visitors to the old city can experience the city's rich history and culture through its many historical sites, monuments, and museums.
One of the most notable features of the old city of Siena is its unique design. This design was intentional, and it was created in order to provide protection from invaders and to help regulate the flow of people and goods through the city. The result is a beautiful and intricate network of streets and alleys that lead visitors through the city's many neighbourhoods and landmarks.
One of the most unique events in Siena is the Palio, a horse race that takes place in the city's main square, the Piazza del Campo, twice a year on July 2nd and August 16th. The Palio is a deeply traditional event that dates back to the Middle Ages and is incredibly popular. Reservations are taken more than a year in advance and prices are at their highest. Siena is divided into ten wards called Contrades. Each contrade is represented by a different animal that was the original symbol of the various battalions which protected the city. The symbolism of each ward is very easy to spot. See if you can spot all ten!
The race is run by ten horses and riders, representing the city's ten contrades. The Campo, or main square is a huge bowl. The annual Palio horse race begins and ends in this square with paying guests on bleachers and massive crowds of people jammed into the center.
Each contrade cheers fiercely for their rider. The winner is awarded a treasured silk banner, known as the Palio, depicting the Virgin Mary. The event is a celebration of Sienese culture and history, and the atmosphere in the Piazza del Campo is electric on race day.
The Piazza del Campo
This beautiful square is one of Siena's most famous landmarks, and it is the site of the Palio. The square is surrounded by beautiful palaces and is a must-visit for anyone exploring Siena. Take a stroll around the square, enjoy a coffee at one of its many cafes, and take in the beautiful views of the city's skyline.