Top 10 Attractions and Places to Visit in Siena
The Tuscan city of Siena can sometimes be overlooked, despite being near cities like Florence and Pisa. It is worth a visit, though. Siena, an ancient city, was Florence’s principal rival politically and culturally in the 13th century. The historic center of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995.
It’s no accident that many of the most famous films were shot in Siena Italy. You can think of the famous opening of James Bond’s Quantum of Solace. Or, you could think of Letters to Juliet. With its iconic shell-shaped square, the city offers a multitude of beautiful views from its hillside location. Siena is home to many famous sites, but it also has its own legends, much like Rome. Remus and Senius, the famed founder of Rome, founded Siena. Aschius and Senius would have fled Rome to flee from Remus’ brother, their uncle. They traveled north on a black-and-white horse to live in peace there. The coat of arms for Siena still features a black-and-white horse. There are many other stories and endless sightseeing in Tuscan. This is the perfect place to visit in Tuscany on a day trip. For more information on these amazing tourist attractions in Siena, click on any of the highlighted icons.
1. Cathedral of Siena (Duomo).
Construction of the Cathedral of Siena began in the 12th century. It is now one of the most popular tourist attractions of the city. One of the most famous examples of Italian Gothic architecture is the Cattedrale Di Santa Maria Assunta. The cathedral’s exterior is distinctively black-and-white striped. Its 1380-built facade is richly decorated. The campanile, a freestanding bell tower that is 77 meters high, can be found next to the cathedral.
Sightseeing around and in the Cathedral
While you can admire the exterior of Santa Maria Assunta, don’t forget about the interior and other areas around it. The Biblioteca Piccolomini is located in the church. It is made up of Andrea Bregno’s Piccolomini altar from 1481. Pinturicchio’s frescoes on the life and times of Pope Pius II Piccolomini will be found. The Battistero di San Giovanni is another attraction that can be found around the cathedral. Camaino di Crescentino built this Renaissance religious building with a hexagonal bronze baptismal fountain. The famous frescoes that depict John the Baptist’s life by prominent Italian artists like Donatello and Ghiberti are well-known. Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana is a final place of interest. Here statues from the cathedral’s past are preserved. Here you’ll find famous statues such as Madonna and Child, Maesta and Child by Duccio, and Madonna with big eyes. The Metropolitana section, which was created in 1870, displays works of art in bronze and pottery, gold, and wood from different centuries.
Tip: To visit the cathedral, you can book tickets in advance. The Opa Si Pass allows you to visit all areas of the Duomo. Standard tickets only allow you to access the Cathedral and Piccolomini Libraries. You can enjoy this stunning highlight without worrying.
2. Visit Piazza del Campo
The square with the shell-shaped shape in the center of Siena is the most well-known feature of the city. Piazza del campo is the center of Siena. All narrow streets leading to Rome lead to this square-shaped square. The Fonte Gaia is a massive fountain that carries water from the mountains north of Siena down to the Piazza. Bottini are underground channels that have been formed and serve all fountains in Siena. A feast was celebrated when the water reached the piazza for the first time in 1342. Fonte Gaia, which means “Source of joy”, is the reason why the fountain was named after it.
3. Torre del Mangio
If you think about Piazza del Campo you will immediately see a massive bell tower. This is Torre del Mangia, a 102 meter (88 m if you exclude the Palazzo) tall bell tower. This tower is a landmark in the city. It was built by the Rinaldo brothers in the 14th century and is located next to Palazzo Pubblico. The tower’s striking feature is the fact that the lower portion is Gothic while the top is not. A chapel is located at the Torre’s foot. It was built after the plague epidemic of 1352. For a small fee, you can climb the Torre to enjoy a stunning view of the city.
4. Palazzo Pubblico (Museo Civico)
The Palazzo Pubblico is the town hall that was built between 1297-1310. It can be found on the Piazza Del Campo. The Palazzo used to be the home of the Signoria, the Podesta, but it’s now one of the most beautiful palaces from that period. It is easily identifiable with its light natural stone and orange bricks. The Museo Civico is a museum in the town hall that displays paintings and frescoes. You will find important works on the unification of Italy in room 1. You will also find frescoes of Pope Alexander in room 2. Allegorical images can be found in the Hall of the Cardinal as well as the Hall of the Consistory. The Antekapel contains paintings depicting politicians, gods, and philosophers. The famous Maesta of Simone Martini can be found in the Room of the World Map. The Hall of Peace contains frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In the Hall of the Pillars, you will find paintings by Neroccio Di Lando (museum website).
5. Palio, the most famous event in Siena
You think of Siena when you think about horse races. The palio takes place every summer from 7 to 16 August. Although the festival dates back to Roman times and the horse races that are associated with it were first held in 1283, they have been celebrated every year since. This competition features the participation of riders from ten of seventeen districts, contrade. The racehorses are blessed after the draw. Processions are held to celebrate this event. Although the matches last for only about a minute and half, thousands gather on the Piazza to see it. The winner will be presented with a banner and a silk palio.
6. Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala
This museum is now one of the most well-known in Siena. It was once a popular civilian hospital that cared for the poor, abandoned children and pilgrims. The Santa Maria della Scala is home to great masterpieces like the interior frescoes. Unfortunately, the outside frescoes are gone but there is still much information available through careful documentation. Some of the most well-known frescoes are: Birth of Virgin by Lorenzetti, and Betrothal Of The Virgin by Martini. There are also many altarpieces such as Beccafumi’s oil painting Trinity Triptych (Info & Bookings).
7. Basilica Cateriniana di S. Domenico
The large Gothic-style church of San Domenico can be found here. This religious building was built in 1226. It was completed in the 15th century. The Dominicans built the church in honor of Saint Domenicus. In a chapel dedicated solely to Catherine of Siena, Catherine of Siena was buried here in 1380. Sodorna has many frescoes that are dedicated to Catherine. The Cappella delle Volte contains the only authentic portrait of Catherine by Andrea Vanni, her friend.
8. Casa di Santa Caterina
Catherine of Siena, the mentioned patron saint of the city, was also the patron saint. Catharina Benincase, the daughter of a merchant, was Catharina Benincase. She decided at the age of eight to follow the Christian faith. Many visions were a part of her life, and she was a source of inspiration to many artists. Catherine was killed in Rome, and her canonization came shortly thereafter. Casa di Santa Catharina, the home where the devout lady was raised, is known as Casa di Santa Catharina. It has cloisters, chapels, and is very distinctive. The orchard was home to a church built in 1623. Her house is decorated with paintings of Catherine’s life (website).
9. Things to do: Pinacoteca Nazionale
Pinacoteca Nazionale, an interesting museum, is located in an ex-palazzo. The Palazzo Buonsignori is home to a collection that includes artworks from the Sienese school. You will find, for example, works by Lorenzetti, Martini, and Duccio. These views are early examples of landscape painting. These works and Domenico’s work are remarkable in that Byzantine art continued its influence on the Sienese School. (Picture by Domenico di Bartolo for more information museum.
10. Sights: Basilica di San Francesco
Also built in the 13th century, was the church of San Francesco. The original Romanesque facade was transformed into the Gothic façade we see today. Although the interior appears a little austere, this is due to the fact that the church was destroyed by many Baroque altars during a fire in 1655. Some works of art survived the time ravages, including two tombs from the fourteenth century, two partially preserved frescos and other works of art by Zucchi Lorenzetti, Nasini and Da Cortona.
You can do more sightseeing in Siena
You should visit Siena’s Fortezza Medicea. This fortress was built for Cosimo de Medici. The red-brick fortress now houses an Enoteca where you can sample different wines from the area. Palazzo Piccolomini is another option for those who are interested in Palazzos. This is Siena’s most valuable private palazzo. It was built for the Piccolomini families. The palace now houses important documents that are part of Sienese history. Here you will find archives, beautifully decorated merchant’s books, and tax documents dating back to the 13th century.
The best hotels in Siena
Hotels in the city center of Siena
The Grand Hotel Continental Siena Starhotels Collezione, a 5-star luxury hotel located in the Old Town, is the best choice. The 17th-century building’s interior gives the impression of being in a palace. The Palazzetto Rosso is a stylish, artistically designed hotel located in the heart the city’s center. Il Chiostro del Carmine, a beautiful restored 14th-century monastery that offers stunning views of the countryside, is another great option. Casatorre dei Leoni Dimora Sterica and Fonte Gaia Experience, two of the top rated Bed & Breakfasts in Siena’s old city center, are both great options. The popularity of Hotel Athena comes partly from its location at the edge of the city (ideal: there is a free parking space) and the beautiful view from the terrace.