Siena in a day: is it possible to visit the Tuscan city in only one day?
One of the most loved Tuscan cities, Siena is a small jewel that you don’t have to miss during your Tuscany tour.
Located 70 kms south of Florence is a small historical town, during Medieval times it was a prosperous and independent city-state rival of Florence. The city still retains its medieval appearance, with its 17 historic districts developing all around the main square. Siena is well-known for its Palio, the horse racing competition between the historic districts that is held twice a year (it looks like this year there will be an extra third race on 20th October 2018) and take place in the main square of the town.
I personally loved Siena more than Florence the first time I visited them, and I am planning to go back soon to show my BF the city as he’s never been! If you really want to enjoy Siena a day is not enough, also because he surroundings are simply stunning. You know all those breathtaking pictures of Tuscany’s countryside? Well outside Siena the landscape is just like one of those photos. On the contrary if you are visiting the region on a tour and you have limited time, a day is sufficient to see around the old town. Let’s explore Siena together, finding out the places you don’t have to miss.
PIAZZA DEL CAMPO
This is THE square. You’ve seen it all around for sure. Easily recognizable for its peculiar hemicycle shape (it’s like a shell) and for preserving its beauty since Middle Ages. Surrounded by ancient palaces, its fulcrum is the town hall.
The Town Hall, built between 1297 and 1310, is seat of the municipal administration since Middle Ages. Nowadays the Civic Museum of the city is also located inside the Palace.
Torre del Mangia stands next to the Town Hall and once served as its bell tower. Built between 1325 and 1348 is one to Italy’s tallest ancient towers, reaching 102 meters up to the lightning rod. It owes its name (literally Tower of the eater) to its first keeper, known food lover whom used to spend its earnings to eat (his nickname was mangiaguadagni: earnings-eater).
You can find Fonte Gaia one one side of the square. The first public square of the city, opened in 1386, it was later embellished with statues whose originals are on display in the Museum of Santa Maria della Scala.
DUOMO DI SIENA
Lets move from the main square and head towards the Cathedral, that is probably the first building you’ll notice approaching the city. The Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta is one of the most significant churches built in Italian Romanesque-Gothic style in Italy.
The cathedral stands out from the surrounding buildings with its white marble façade and the black and white striped walls that contrast sharply with the facades of the other red brick buildings. The interiors, beautifully decorated and rich of masterpieces, are noteworthy for the tall black and white columns that support the decorated ceiling of the central nave and the dome.
Remember to visit the marvelous Libreria Piccolomini: built in 1492 to preserve the rich library heritage collected by Pope Pius II, which instead never housed.
Do not skip the visit to the crypt, as its story is fascinating. The lower level of the church was closed, sealed and re-buried for centuries. Only in 1999, during a renovation, the room and its series of frescoes kept in almost perfect condition was rediscovered. Because of this we can admire the bright colors of these thirteenth-century frescoes. In fact it is assumed that the true original crypt lies below the dome, but for static problems of the whole structure, the premises are not accessible.
MUSEUM OF SANTA MARIA DELLA SCALA
Just in front of the Cathedral, you can find the museum that hosts more than 1000 years of history. The building you will enter once was the oldest and largest hospital on Via Francigena and in Europe. Here pilgrims traveling to Rome found hospitality and care. The hospital also supported poor people and abandoned children.
BASILICA DI SAN DOMENICO
This gothic cathedral build during the 13th century is probably known for being the home of the most important relic of Santa Caterina da Siena, her head.
Have you enjoyed this Siena in a day tour? Let me know if you are going to take inspiration from it for your next Tuscan getaway.