Siena, a city dominated by medieval brick buildings, lies in central Italy’s Tuscany region. Travelers flock to the Old town to marvel at (amongst others) the fan-shaped central square, Piazza del Campo (below) and the Torre del Mangia (below), a slender 14th-century tower. Strolling through Old town Siena – which during our visit was cloaked in a thick impenetrable mist – easily brings to mind times of chariot races and knights. One of Siena’s most famous attractions is the Palio, a bareback horse race held every July 2 and August 16 at Piazza del Campo – and streets prominently and proudly display the race flags.
The Siena Cathedral was designed and constructed between 1215 and 1263 (The stained-glass round window in the choir was made in 1288) and is absolutely magnificent. The entire inside structure is dominated by a contrast of black and white, in reference to the colours of Siena’s coat of arms. The floor of the Cathedral portrays as much as the ceiling and 56 panels of marble, etched and inlaid, show scenes from the Bible and the history of Siena (below). No photo could do this cathedral true justice – it’s easier to just quietly take a seat and visually absorb the vision and artistry that created such beauty. Whether you are religious or not – there’s no denying the Presence once you step inside the cathedral.
The easiest way to experience and uncover all the hidden gems of Siena is by getting hopelessly lost. Due to the mist during our visit we got lost in the Old town and couldn’t find the narrow exit out of the maze – the buildings are tall, and the streets steep and narrow. But in that vaguely panicked state we discovered so many silent artistic gems which easily could have been missed. Treat yourself to a porchetta sandwich and a beer. Smile about the cheekily placed graffiti. Admire the stunning statues. Browse through the markets. Take a million photos.
If you’re looking for modern and fast paced Siena may not be for you. But if you’re looking for art, history, architectural brilliance and a step back in time – book your ticket.
Happy Travels x
A cooking experience at the vineyard begins with Capafresca Spumante rosè as a welcoming aperitif.