Siena Italy Travel Guide - A Vagabond Life
Siena Italy Travel Guide
Siena Italy is a beautifully preserved medieval Tuscan hill town that is one of Italy’s most visited towns. I spent 6 wonderful weeks living in Siena Italy where I attended a language school which quickly became nicknamed ‘the medieval torture chamber of grammatica’…but that is an entirely different story.
First settled by Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC), ruled by the Romans and conquered by the Lomards the city eventually became the Republic of Siena in 1125AD. For the next 400 years Siena was a prosperous and influential city until like many Tuscan towns, Siena was devastated by the Black Plague. During the Italian war of 1551 -59 the city surrendered to the Spanish ending the republic. Siena came back under the rule of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany where it remained until the unification of Italy in the 19th century.
Fun Fact: Siena is home to the oldest bank in the world which has been operating continuously since 1472.
A UNESCO listed town it is well worth a visit, however I would recommend going a little off season as July and August it can be very busy.
Getting To Siena
Cars are not allowed in the old city. Parking is available on the outskirts of the walls. be aware that during peak times parking will be difficult and very busy.
If travelling from one of the bigger nearby towns a bus maybe the most convenient way to get to Siena
From Florence – Departing regularly from the Florence bus station next to the Santa Maria Novella train station buses take about 11/2 hours.
From Rome – Departing from Tiburtina station the bus journey takes approximately 3 hours.
The Siena train station is 2km from the medieval city
Table of Contents
Siena Italy Map
Things To See & Do In Siena Italy
Piazza del Campo (Il Campo)
Piazza del Campo
I have many happy memories of spending time in the Piazza del Campo or Il Campo as the locals call it. We would often sit in the piazza in the weak spring sun watch Siena go about its business. Recognised as one of Europes great Medieval squares Il Campo is surrounded by the Palazzo Pubblico and its Torre del Mangia, along with palazzi signorili. At the northwest edge is the beautiful Fonte Gaia. Wander down to the piazza in the evening and you will often find musician and performers. The Palio horse race is held in Piazza Pubblicca twice a year
The Piazza Pubblico was built in 1297 and housed the republican government, it is now the home of the local government. The Piazza Pubblico or Peoples Palace dominates the Piazza del Campo and is well worth a visit for its medieval architecture and frescoes.
The Museo Civico or Civic Museum is on the first floor of the Palazzo Pubblico in the heart of medieval Siena. The Meseo Civico houses paintings as a social message for the common man along with fresco depicting good and bad government. Ity is a lovely place to wander for a few hours, and when I visited was a popular place for weddings.
Housed inside the Siena Cathedral the Piccolomini Library was painted by the Perugian painter Pintoricchio in 1502 for his patron, the cardinal of Siena, who wished to honour his uncle Pope Pius II who died in 1464. The Piccolomini Library features a series of amazing, colourful and very detailed frescoes.in Siena Italy
Torre del Mangia
Torre del Mangia
In Piazza del Campo right next to Piazza Pubblico the Torre del Mangia was built in 1338 and was once the tallest tower in medieval Europe. The marble loggia on the top, known as Cappella di Piazza, was added in 1352 as a vow for the Holy Virgin by the Sienese survivors from the Black Death. The tower is named for its first bell ringer who was well known for his love of food.
Oh what a stunning Duomo, built from pink, white and black marble the Siena Cathedral was just a short stroll from my apartment and I often wandered up to sit in the small piazza and gaze at this amazing Gothic marvel. It took over 200 hundred years to complete after building was halted when the black plague devastated the city.
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