Tuscany is a wonderful region, full of art cities and unique villages. In this region you can find much more than just Florence and Pisa. Tourists from all over the world come to visit Tuscany to admire its artistic masterpieces and its rolling green hills, leaving their hearts behind.
Siena is among the best must-see destination when arriving in the land of Dante. To say that it is one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany is not enough. Imagine the narrow alleys, the famous reddish colour of its buildings, the unmistakable Piazza del Campo, or all of these things together. Olive groves, vineyards and landscapes that seem to come out of a storybook are what awaits you if you decide to visit Siena.
The streets of Siena go up and down like a roller coaster as it is built on 3 concentric hills. They allow you to stroll peacefully while admiring the shop windows, the details of the portals and the views that appear from time to time between the buildings. The dominant colour is the red of the Tuscan terracotta, of the houses and roofs, which makes the prestigious marble buildings stand out even more; above all, the black and white of the Cathedral, which stands imperious and visible from most of the city. Also the Palazzo Salimbeni in the marvellous Piazza Salimbeni is worth a visit. The beating heart of the city, however, is Piazza del Campo, where the three hills join.
The construction of Piazza del Campo dates back to the 13th century under the famous “Governo dei Nove” (1287 – 1355) and is also the place where the very popular Palio takes place every year, on 2 July and 16 August. Being in the city close to one of the two events is undoubtedly an experience worth having to fully grasp a unique atmosphere.
Among the splendid noble palaces such as Palazzo Piccolomini, in Piazza del Campo, the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia undoubtedly stand out with their grandeur; with 102 meters it is the second highest in Italy! You can go up for a superb view.
The Palazzo Pubblico, with its curved façade, is still the seat of the Municipality, but it has wonderful rooms that house the Civic Museum. Built between 1297 and 1310 in the Gothic style, both the palace and the paintings represent the golden age of Siena’s art: the fourteenth century.
The other great Sienese beauty is the Duomo. The complex includes the Cathedral, Museum, Façade, Baptistery and Crypt and might seem expensive (€15 to see everything), but it is of exceptional beauty.
By Porta del Cielo we mean the walkway on the roofs of the Cathedral which allows a magnificent view, inside and outside. If you climb up to the attic from where the internal space of the dome is dominated by small open windows; then you come out in the open, for a great view of the Facciatone, the high bell tower and Palazzo Pubblico that emerges between the roofs.
Of course, the Duomo is also a must-see. Begun in 1136, it is in Romanesque-Gothic style. It has two easily visible characteristics: first, the black and white marble strips that dominate, both on the sides and in the bell tower; they are the symbolic colours of Siena. The second is a huge nave unfinished due to the plague; a corridor has remained which now houses the Cathedral Museum and the famous Facciatone, which can be climbed.
The façade is magnificent and imposing: it leaves you speechless and resembles the Cathedral of Orvieto. After the initial amazement you understand that it was built in two phases; the lower part does not coincide in lines and style with the upper one in flamboyant gothic. However, the statues of Giovanni Pisano are masterpieces and the sun of Christ stands out on the door, positioned to end the feuds between the districts.
If it’s rich outside, it’s richer inside. Many great artists have left their mark here, including Donatello, Michelangelo and Bernini. Magnificence and grandeur dominate, starting with the columns (always black and white). Everything is decorated, right from the inlaid polychrome marble floor which is a unique masterpiece: there are 56 biblical scenes, usually largely covered by carpets to protect them.
There are also masterpieces of sculpture: first of all the pulpit by Nicola Pisano with scenes from the Life of Christ; then San Giovanni Battista by Donatello, the 4 saints sculpted by Michelangelo for the Piccolomini altar and Maria Maddalena and San Girolamo by Gian Lorenzo Bernini in the Cappella del Voto. Wherever you look it is wonderful!
The surroundings of Siena are representative of Tuscany, with the hills rich in nature and charming villages. It is also a delight to simply cross it by car following the undulations of the road and admiring the landscapes. In particular, to the south-east of Siena there is a very suggestive place, the Crete Senesi: they are hills rich in clay which give them a greyish, almost lunar colour.