Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy
Photo by Giuseppe Milo  –  Link

Siena

Italy

Located in the Tuscany region in central Italy, Siena is a picturesque medieval city with a treasure chest of historic sites to discover.

Siena history

This UNESCO-protected city has a fascinating past that began, according to legend, with Romulus and Remus, the two brothers who founded Rome. It is said that two sons of Remus, Senius and Aschius, were responsible for establishing Siena. In honour of this, you'll see a number of statues in the city depicting a she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus, as the story goes.

After its founding, Siena soon became a busy trading post and the population grew. Between the 12th and 15th centuries, the city attained its striking Gothic-style look, as can be seen in the grand Duomo di Siena (Siena Cathedral). These distinctive buildings, coupled with the enchanting Tuscan landscape surrounding the city, make Siena a wonderfully appealing place to see.

Things to do

Siena is best known for Palio, the famous horse race that takes place here every summer (it was even featured in the James Bond movie Quantum of Solace). This event sees ten riders racing bareback on their horses in honour of the Virgin Mary. The race sets off in Piazza del Campo, the central plaza of Siena which is known for its exquisite medieval architecture, including the iconic Torre del Mangia.

A trip to Siena isn't complete without a wander around its historic contrade (districts) and a taste of some of the city's delicious cuisine. Tuscany is famous for its wine and olive oil, thanks to the vineyards that abound in the area. And in the city, there's no shortage of good food, from freshly made pappardelle pasta to sweet pastries and cantucci biscuits.

Getting to Siena

The nearest airport to Siena is Florence, but Rome and Pisa are also within reach. If you don't have a car, there are good bus and train routes to city from all three cities.