Siena

Siena is a Medieval city in Tuscany, some 70 km (43 mi) south of Florence. It is probably best known for a colourful horse race, Il Palio, conducted twice each year in the summer.

43 things to do

All Places Italy



Piccolo Hotel Etruria

Via Donzelle 3. You can't beat the location; it's just a couple of steps up from the Campo. Clean, recently renovated, has a nice common room with a small balcony right over Banchi di Sotto - the final leg of the route towards the Campo taken by the constant parades of the ''contrada'' which won the latest ''palio'' (these last for a few weekends after the event, and can mean a group of thoroughly drunk stragglers accompanied by costumed drummers and banner-wavers at 2 in the morning - this is ''not'' frowned upon by the locals); as you go up the stairs to the rooms there is also a display of the riding accessories of the ''Civetta'', the small but very proud ''contrada'' where the hotel is located (it finally won the Palio in August of '09 after waiting for more than 30 years, earning in the process the dubious distinction of being the ''nonna'', or "Grandma", as the contrada who haven't won for the longest time). Doubles with bath around €90 in season; curfew at 1 am. Also, a slightly more downmarket cousin '''Tre Donzelle''' next door up at #5; a (smaller, more spartan) room will run you €10-€15 cheaper. Skip the restaurant in the basement, unless you are after the heavily promoted barrel-vault interior; food is unexceptional and overpriced.

SLEEP   —  Map

Palio Horse Race

A horse race like nowhere else, between the 17 contrade of Siena, is run in The Campo of Siena on July 2 and August 16. All Sienese are affiliated with one of the contrade, to which a typical Sienese feels loyal with a strength perhaps surpassed only by their loyalty to their family. Since the 11th century, the Sienese have conducted festivals every year where the contrade compete for renown (and in times gone by, actual political power) through contests such as flag throwing, horse racing and even fist fights. The fist fights no longer happen (a heavy police presence in the weeks prior to the contest sees to that), but the spirit of competition between contrade is still fierce. The race itself is in late evening but the whole day of the race is taken up with processions through the streets of the various contrade competing in the particular race (only ten can compete at any time for safety reasons).

DO   —  Map


Duomo

Siena's magnificent black and white Italian Romanesque cathedral includes the '''Libreria Piccolomini''', with splendid frescoes by Pinturicchio, the lovely '''Baptistery''' (separate entrance and charge), and an attached museum (separate entrance and charge, see below). Also marvel at the inlaid floors; even as they are sometimes covered for protection, a section is always left visible. At the height of Siena's power it was decided to enlarge the cathedral so that the existing Duomo would become merely its transept; the money ran out very soon after one of the new outer walls, which is still standing as a reminder of the grandiose undertaking, was completed.

SEE   —  +39 0577 286300 —  Map

Albergo Bernini

Via della Sapienza n°15 (just down the street from San Domenico) (use Italian or simple English if you email) - dated but clean rooms in a tiny, centrally-located inn. A truly friendly older couple owns and runs it, and lives on the property (they leave their door open often). The great thing is the view of Siena - spectacular, as you look across the unobstructed valley and almost down at the Piazza del Campo and Duomo. The two rooms at the back have the view. They also have good tips on the best inexpensive dining, which is fabulous. At midnight they lock the doors and go to bed. Double with bath €85, without bath €65.

SLEEP   —  +39 0577-289047 —  Map


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini

This is another Gothic palazzo, or at least its façade remains Gothic, though the interior was modernized in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The building currently (since 1932) houses the Accademia Chigiana, the city's conservatory of music. Quite a number of beautiful paintings are part of its collection, but the rooms that house the artwork are often used for classes and rehearsals or simply locked up when not in use, so if you would like to view its holdings, you will probably need to get permission in advance and make an appointment.


Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico

This large, austere Gothic basilica (usually simply called San Domenico) is not only dedicated to St. Catherine of Siena, along with St. Dominic, but was frequented by her and contains a period portrait of her by Andrea Vanni and relics including her head. It also features several other works by Sienese Gothic painters and impressively high vaulted ceilings. It is quite close to the long-distance bus stop, so if you are going to or from Siena by bus and have the time even to briefly enter this house of prayer, do.



Residence "Villa Il Borghetto"

Splendid aristocratic residence originating from the early 1600s, in the countryside, ten minutes' drive from the historical centre of Siena. It incorporates eight spacious apartments, which may host up to seven persons. It is complemented by the Dependence, a holiday home to the same standard. Each of the eight spacious apartments is a synthesis of comfort, elegant style, traditional taste and modern functionality.

SLEEP   —  Map

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo

This museum includes the famous Maestà by Duccio and many other great works by Sienese masters. After you've seen all the art, you can also treat yourself to a beautiful panorama from Il Facciatone, the tower in this building. The view is about as good as the one from the Torre del Mangia in the Palazzo Pubblico but somewhat different, although if you are rushed for time, pick one tower to climb (either one).

SEE   —  Map


Olive Oil

If you have a car then you can drive out to the Montestigliano Olive estate 12 km outside the walls, perched high on a hill surrounded by olive trees. You can taste and buy their single estate, extra virgin olive oil (as well as a few other goodies) to take with you or have shipped. There is also a lovely courtyard where you can sit and enjoy a glass of wine and admire the view.

BUY   —  Map

Sant'Agostino

Originally a Gothic church, it was damaged by fire in 1747 and was renovated with some Baroque additions and further added to in the 19th century. However, the main draws for the lover of paintings are from well before the fire and include an Enthroned Madonna with Child and Saints by the 14th-century Ambrogio Lorenzetti and a Crucifixion by the 15th-16th-century Perugino.

SEE   —  Piazza Sant'Agostino

The Hotel Minerva

Via Garibaldi, 72, inside the walls of Siena. There are 59 bedrooms with bathrooms, phone, color TV, safe deposit box, air conditioning, fridge-bar, laundry service, fast internet facility. The bedrooms have a view of old Siena. A meeting room is available. Garage. Ten minutes' walk from Piazza del Campo. 500 meters from the Railway Station.

SLEEP   —  Map

Santa Maria dei Servi

This Romanesque church is much smaller than the huge edifices of the Duomo and San Domenico, but it contains some notable art including a Coronation of the Virgin and Saints by Bernardino Fungai, a Massacre of the Innocents attributed to Pietro Lorenzetti and collaborators and an Adoration of the Shepherds by Taddeo Di Bartolo.

SEE   —  Piazza Manzoni

Osteria Sotto le Fonti

Restaurant off the beaten path, with owners who serve you personally; the waitress speaks fluently English (very rare in Italy) and knows how to recommend you wine, as she is also a wine tour guide. Is a pleasant walk downhill shortly outside the gates of the city, allowing you to look up at the top of the Duomo.


Siena Colleverde

About 3 km east from the city centre and up the hill from the rail station. It is quite a large campsite and has all the facilities and a swimming pool. As of 2012 year, you can rent cabins with toilet/shower for 2/3/4/5 persons (€65/80/105/115 per night, maybe cheaper when booked through traveling sites).


Osteria del Gatto

Not far from the above Nonna Gina. Menu will be in Italian but the waiters and the cooks will be available for a translation "on the fly". Fish is served one week a month. If you happen to be there in that week, don't miss the "Tonno alla Mediterranea" (tuna fish in the Mediterranean way).


Birth House of St. Catherine of Siena

In this house lived the 14th-century mystic who is one of the principal patron saints of Italy. If you are a devotee, it is natural to combine a visit here with a visit to San Domenico, but even if you are not a devotee, if you have the time, you are likely to find your visit interesting.

SEE   —  Map

Fontebranda

This Medieval fountain is the oldest in Siena, built in its current form in 1246 and remaining in place as itself, not a replica. Not surprisingly, it is somewhat worn and overgrown in places, but still impressive and beautiful, and would be a top sight in most other cities.

SEE   —  Via di Fontebranda

NH Excelsior

Piazza La Lizza. Situated inside the walls, the NH Excelsior is elegant and pleasant, and has easy access to the city’s main attractions. The hotel, recently completely refurbished, has 129 rooms all of which offer comfort and a modern design.

SLEEP   —  +39 0577 382111 —  Map

Nannini

A bakery/cafe with an excellent selection of Tuscan pastries: Ricciarelli, Cavalucci, Cantucci, Panforte, etc. The ingredients of same are prominently displayed in most cases, making Nannini a very attractive option for the travelling vegan.


Basilica of San Francesco

This Romanesque church was turned into a Gothic one and contains some notable Gothic art, including a moving fresco of the Crucifixion by Pietro Lorenzetti and one of the Martyrdom of Five Franciscan Brothers by his brother, Ambrogio.


Agriturismo Monaciano

Tuscany self catering accommodations in the Chianti hills 7 km from Siena with swimming pool, ping-pong and a romantic park. Monaciano has many farmhouses that may comfortably accommodate large families or large groups of friends.

SLEEP   —  Map

Montaperti Hotel

About 7 km east of Siena, close to the SS73 highway. Situated in the middle of a rural landscape next to a vineyard and a small village. Perfect if you have access to a car, easy to get in to and out from Siena.

SLEEP   —  +39 0577 36741 —  Map

Palazzo Tolomei

This lovely palazzo was built between 1205 and 1212 by the Tolomei family when the area was outside of the city walls. Now, it is well within the walls and on the way from the Campo to Piazza Salimbeni.

SEE   —  Piazza Tolomei 9

Hotel Garden

4-stars hotel with restaurant, outdoor pool and panoramic terrace. With Hotel Italia and Villa Agostoli, the Hotel Garden is one of the hotels in Siena of the company Siena Inns.

SLEEP   —  +39 0577 567111 —  Via Custoza, 2

Santa Maria della Scala

This Medieval hospital, now a museum, is chock-full of Medieval art including altarpieces by Bartolommeo Bulgarini and frescoes by the Lorenzetti brothers and Simone Martini.

SEE   —  Piazza del Duomo 1

Saena Iulia

One of the better private schools in Siena that provide courses to people that want to learn Italian for a very reasonable price. Look on their website for more information.


Borgo Grondaie

Strada delle Grondaie, 15. A typical farmhouse hotel with swimming pool. It offers a selection of studio apartments and en-suite rooms in a country and friendly atmosphere.

SLEEP   —  +39 0577 332539 —  Map

Montagnola

Beyond the small village of Sovicille about 12 km from Siena with regular bus connections. It's a decent site with basic facilities but quite friendly and helpful staff.


Borgo Scopeto Relais

Beautiful 4-star hotel and restaurant immersed in vineyards and olive groves of the Tuscan countryside 12 km from Siena. Also does weddings and meetings.

SLEEP   —  Map

Santuario S. Caterina

Run by a nunnery, this modest hotel near the Basilica di S. Domenico provides sanctuary to weary travellers. Curfew is 11pm.


Campo Regio Relais

A bed and breakfast-style hotel, renovated in 2005, in the historical center of Siena, with amazing view onto the old town.

SLEEP   —  Map

Piccolo Hotel Il Palio

Cheap but not very well kept 2 star hotel within the city-walls from €60 (2007) easy to reach by foot from the station.

SLEEP   —  Map

Chiostro del Carmine

Via della Diana 4. 4 star hotel located in historical residence, Siena center. Rooms from €99.

SLEEP   —  +39 0577 223476 —  Map

Villa Agostoli

Beautiful holiday house pet friendly with pool and vacation rental apartments near Siena.


La Villa di STR

3-star hotel that offers free shuttle service for the Spa San Giovanni Rapolano Terme.


Pinacoteca Nazionale di Siena

The Pinacoteca is full of Sienese painting from the city's Medieval heyday.


La Torre

This is also an excellent restaurant, in the contrada of the same name.

EAT   —  Map

Hotel Italia

3-star hotel. The hotel has a Love Room for romantic moments.


The Walkabout Pub

Cool pub with Australian ambiance doing cool music.

DRINK   —  Via Pantaneto 90

Barone Rosso

Great live music, but a bit on the seedy side.

DRINK   —  Via Dei Termini N° 9

Osteria Nonna Gina

Outside the Due Porte.


Siena Jazz Festival

During summer.

DO   —  Map


Source: wikivoyage