Come to Siena and be enchanted. Enchantment lies on every corner of this beautiful city, ready to make the excited traveller fall instantly in love with her. If Siena was a woman she would be ancient, but one of those rare women who only gets better with time.
Siena started life as an Etruscan town but only really started to gain prosperity when the Romans established a military colony here named Sena Julia in the first century BCE. During the 12th century her famous rivalry with Florence began and in 1230 her rival laid siege to her. However, in 1260 Siena gained revenge at the Battle of Montaperti. Throughout the following centuries the city suffered terrible calamities and glorious successes of all natures.
Siena is outstanding outdoor museum of Gothic architecture. Nowhere else in Italy are there more museums, churches, cathedrals and other buildings dating back to this iconic period. Nowhere better to admire this style is the Palazzo Comunale, which dates back to 1297. The first part of the building is made from stone, the upper levels from brick and the facade something out of a history book. It was commissioned by the Council of Nine and is a glorious testament to their artistic and actual power.
This city has her own patron saint, St Catherine (1347-80) and devotees flock to the Casa di Santa Caterina. This was said to be her home where she was born and lived with her mother and 23 siblings. In the 15th century these rooms were transformed into chapels and filled with painted scenes of her life. There is also a room where some of the saint’s personal items are displayed. For those are interested in the saint, a visit to Chiesa di San Domenico church will be enlightening as this was the church where she took her vows.
Tours around museums are equally enlightening. The Museo Archeologico is within Santa Maria della Scala and houses many galleries showcasing the very best of Etruscan and Roman artefacts found in and around Siena.
For admirers of Sienese art, the best place to go is the Museo Civico, located near the Piazza del Campo. The Sienese art school produced some of the finest Italian artists and many frescoes painted by these are on display at this delightful museum. One thing that makes these paintings so unusual is the fact that the artists were commissioned by the government instead of the Church.
Modern and classy or history and characteristic or cheap and cheerful... no matter your dining preference or budget travellers will find the food simply divine. There are restaurants where you can dine on the same level as ancient Etruscan tombs, making a simple trip to a restaurant a once in a lifetime experience.
Hotels, guesthouses and hostels all provide a place to rest a traveller’s weary head in the evening. Whether you are looking for something bright and modern or something with an authentic atmosphere, Siena’s accommodations are always as charming as the city herself.
Siena is a city with many things to do and numerous types of attractions to keep travellers fascinated and busy. Her long rich history makes her one of the most captivating destinations in a country recognised for her history, her exceptional style and beauty.