When first arriving in Siena, it’s clear that this is an Italian town like no other. It is best known for its medieval history, during which time it was a cultural metropolis with a secular, quasi-democratic government. The city’s Golden Age lasted well into the 16th century, a period that saw the construction of unique brick buildings that still dominate much of the city center. Visit Siena today to be charmed by its enduring traditions and enjoy culinary specialties offered on every corner.
Begin the journey where all trips to Siena start, in the Piazza del Campo, the square around which the city was built and the heart of Siena’s Historical Center. Here you will find some of Siena’s most important sights, such as the Palazzo Pubblico, recognisable for its soaring Torre del Mangia at one end. Go inside the palace, which is the seat of the local council, to admire the artistry of the frescoes decorating nearly every room, then climb to the top of the tower for panoramic views over the city.
Out in the piazza, take photos of the Fonte Gaia, a monumental fountain, with the Loggia della Mercanzia in the background.
From the piazza, walk east for a few minutes to reach the Duomo di Siena, the city’s magnificent cathedral known for the marble mosaics covering the floor. Step outside the cathedral into the Piazza del Duomo to find the Santa Maria della Scala, a medieval hospital that’s now a museum complex. The building also houses Siena’s Tourist Information Office.
Take a break from your tour of Siena to enjoy some of the typical food of the region. Try the local pecorino cheese, cured meats, pork sausage and pici pasta. Sample Siena's famous sweet treats, such as panforte and cantucci cookies, which also make great gifts for family and friends.
Siena is in the heart of Tuscany. Travel by train from the closest airport, in Florence, in 2 hours, or drive in 1.5 hours. Siena has a train station with both local and long-distance train connections. A bus system offers transportation around the city and also into the surrounding villages.
Much of Siena’s Historical Center is closed to private vehicles, which can make parking difficult. Be aware that the city is quite hilly, so bring walking shoes to be able to explore comfortably.
Use Siena’s great location as a base to explore the charming hillside villages of the area, most of which have their own much-beloved type of wine grape.