If you are wondering why you should visit Siena, here you can find the answer to your question.
Siena is one of the most romantic cities in Italy, it is a small town, full of wonderful Medieval buildings and it is less chaotic than the capital city, Florence.
Siena’s historical past is rooted in the Etruscan period, and the city had its major splendour during the Middle-Ages. During those years the town grew and were built many buildings that are still intact.
Siena is famous around the world for the “Palio”, it is the horse race. It takes place twice a year, usually on July and August, in the main square of the town, Piazza del Campo. The Palio’s tradition is really old and it dates back to 1600. This tradition keeps the local people busy during the all year round to make the celebrations perfect.
The city centre of the town is among the UNESCO World Heritage sites. Here the most important and precious buildings are Piazza del Campo, known for its particular shape, and the Duomo, that has a Romantic and also Gothic style.
Once you are in Siena you have to taste the local cold cuts, called “Cinta Senese” and, of course, cheese. The Siena’s cheese is made with local milk and its most delicious one are Pecorino delle Crete Senesi and Pecorino di Pienza. Don’t also forget to taste the typical and fresh pasta from Siena, called Pici. This kind of pasta is similar to spaghetti.
All the region is famous for its inimitable wine, Tuscany is the land where many different types of wine are made, as the Brunello, Chianti Colli Senesi, Vernaccia and so on. Thanks to its excellent wines you can take part in a wine tour to taste them and know more about their origins and production methods.
Where is Siena
Siena is located in the central part of Tuscany and it lies at 32 metres above the sea level. The hills surround the town. The city centre is Piazza del Campo, that since the Middle-Ages was the central economic and social part of the town.
Siena top attractions
Siena is a famous city, and its main characteristics are the narrow streets where it is also possible to admire ancient buildings.
But let’s discover what the things you should not miss during your trip to Siena are.
Piazza del Campo
Piazza del Campo is the heart of the city. It is one of the biggest medieval squares in the world and it is particular thanks to its shell-shape. The square, as we said previously, hosts twice a year the famous Palio, the horse race.
Piazza del Campo has been, since 1300, the centre of social, political and economic life.
Torre del Mangia
The tower is called Torre del Mangia because it takes the name from its fist guardian that used to “earning eater”, indeed he used to spent all his money eating in the many taverns located around the city of Siena.
The best part of this tower is its amazing landscape. It is high 88 meters and there is not the elevator. 400 steps are waiting for you but the effort will be rewarded. From the top of the tower the sight is breathtaking, and it will leave you speechless.
Duomo, or Cathedral, has a white and black façade. The best and particular part of the Cathedral is its interior floor. On it are represented religious stories and esoteric symbols. Unfortunately is possible to visit the floor only at certain times of the year.
Inside the Cathedral, you can also visit the Piccolomini Library and the Piccolomini Chapel, where Michelangelo carved the statues of the niches for three years, from 1501 to 1504. Another valuable part of the church is the pulpit by Nicola Pisano, where is represented the life of Jesus.
Church of San Domenico
The main characteristic of the Church of San Domenico is the architecture and the relic of the Holy head of Saint Catherine from Siena. The Chapel dedicated to Saint Catherine has frescoes painted by “Il Sodoma”.
The Civic Museum of Siena is located in Piazza del Campo, inside Palazzo Pubblico. The Museum preserves one of the most famous allegories of the world: a paint made by Ambrogio Lorenzetti that represent the “bad and the good government”.
Palazzo Pubblico is located in Piazza del Campo, and it was the house of politicians. The structure has a medieval architecture but also a gothic style.
The Baptistery is located behind the Cathedral. It was built in 1325 and for centuries all the pilgrims that visited Siena, famous or not famous, were baptized into this building. Inside the Baptistery there are frescoes and the baptismal font made of bronze and marble.
Complex of Santa Maria della Scala
The Complex of Santa Maria della Scala is located in front of the Duomo of Siena. Today the complex is a museum but in the past years it was a public hospital dedicated to helping for poor, pilgrims, sick people and abandoned children.
The complex host’s monumental areas, frescos and masterpieces. The museum is big, indeed it is composed by four floors.
Siena top restaurants
Siena is not only history and beautiful landscapes. Are you ready to discover all the best restaurant, or maybe it is better to say “Osterie” in Siena?
La Taverna di San Giuseppe
La Taverna di San Giuseppe is one of the best place where you can taste the authentic and traditional recipes from Siena. All the types of pasta here are hand-made and if you are a food lover you will love it!
It is located in the heart of the old town, it is only 400 metres from Piazza del Campo. In the evening the restaurant is lit up with candles creating a romantic and special setting.
The food, the atmosphere and the staff make the restaurant excellent.
Osteria Le Sorelline
If you are looking for a classic and simple restaurant Osteria Le Sorelline is the perfect place for you. Here you can find delicious flavours and friendly staff. This restaurant is the ideal setting for a romantic date, a family reunion and a lunch or dinner with friends.
Numero Unico has a classic style that is in contrast with most of the typical restaurants in Siena. Each dish in this restaurant is perfect, from the main course to the desserts. Once you are in this restaurant don’t miss to taste the marinated rabbit, the honey and coriander seed glazed duck, and at the end of a meal is also important the dessert. Everything will be delicious.
Castel Monastero is a hotel restaurant and it is located into the Siena’s hills. The chef of this restaurant is the famous Gordon Ramsay. In the hotel you can find two different hotels: “Contrada”, where you can taste typical and local dishes, and “La Cantina” that is more intimate and light up with candles.
These restaurants are exclusive and luxury but once you are in Siena you cannot miss Gordon Ramsay’s cuisine.
Tre Cristi is located in an old building from the XV century. The interior design is a mix between 1920s furnishings and walls full of medieval paintings. Also this restaurant is the perfect setting for a romantic dinner, thanks to its elegance and location in the historic centre.
In the restaurant is possible to reserve the “Secret Room”, perfect if you are looking for privacy and a special service.
Gino Cacino di Angelo
Gino Cacino is the perfect restaurant where you can find one of the best selections of meat and cheese in Siena. Here the staff can speak fluent English and they can recommend all the best and typical dishes for the tourists. If you go to this restaurant you have to taste their amazing sandwich filled with roast chicken or pork. Delicious!
Siena top wineries
Tuscany is famous for its food and wine. Around the city of Siena, you can find many wineries where you can taste incredible wines and everyone knows that a couple of glasses of wine per day can help your body and your brain to eliminate toxins.
Now let’s discover which are the most famous wineries in Siena.
Cantina del Brunello di Montalcino
This wine shop is one of the most historic in Siena. Here is possible to take part in a wine tasting with the owner that will explain to you the history of all the wines.
Wein Vino Wine
The owner of this wine shop is a sommelier and when he talks about wine you can feel the passion and love for his job. Here is possible to take part to a wine tasting. Furthermore, is also possible to taste biologic wines.
The owners of Emporio Mediterraneo are four friends that in common have the passion for wine. Their wine shop is close to the main Piazza in Siena, Piazza del Campo. Here is possible to relax with a glass of wine and at the same time taste local cheese.
Siena top dishes
Italian cuisine is loved around the world and each region has its traditional dishes. Of course also Siena has many delicious and typical dishes.
Ribollita represent the icon of Tuscan cuisine. It is not easy to find the original one because it takes three days to prepare. The first day is prepared the Minestrone, so it means soup with vegetables. The second day the leftover soup is layered with small pieces of brad. Sometimes the bread can be toasted and rubbed with garlic. Then it is baked with some red onion on the top. The last day the leftovers are reboiled. The name of this dish takes its name from the third day because in English “Ribollita” means “reboil”.
Chicken liver crostini
Toasted bread with liver paste on the top. The liver paste is made from chicken livers, anchovy fillets, capers, butter and chopped sage leaves. Delicious!
Pici is a kind of pasta, similar to spaghetti. Picci is made with water and wheat flour that is seasoned with pepper and cheese, or sausage, or with garlic and tomato or duck sauce. Whatever is the meal’s dressing you will feel like to be in the heaven.
If you are a lover of beef, Chianina beef is a “must-have” or, in this case, a “must eat”. Chianina beef is raised on pasture.
Cinta Senese is a particular breed of pigs. Usually, it is eaten as an appetizer or snack with croutons, cheese or honey.
The origin of Cavallucci is ancient. Cavallucci are biscuits that, in the past, were eaten by people who travelled by horse because they stay fresh for a long time. Years ago these cookies were made with flour, honey and sugar. Their shape is round and flat. Today they are made with candied orange peels and anise. These ingredients give to the biscuit an original and unique taste.
Ricciarelli has a taste of almond, tender inside and crispy on the outside. Ricciarelli ingredients’ are orange peel and candied citron. These elements combined with almond give to the cookies a delicate taste. In Siena each bakery has its way to make these biscuits so our suggestion is to taste the cookies in different places.
The name Panforte is a Tuscan way to say that something has a strong taste. This is a kind of sweet bread. Flour, honey and pieces of fresh fruit or dried fruit, these are its ingredients.
How to get to Siena
You can reach Siena in different ways: car, train, plane or bus.
The choice of transportation depends on where you are leaving from. If you are close to Tuscany you can go by car, bus or train and these are the cheapest solutions.
If you are not close to Tuscany then is better to reach Siena by plane. The main airport is located in Florence. Once you arrive in Florence you can go to Siena by bus or rent a car.
This post is also available in: Italian