Siena, like many ancient Italian cities, lives up to the title luogo a misura d'uomo or "a place made for people". This is partly due to its compact size, which allows visitors to stroll leisurely about the city, and also due to the quantity and quality of the services that the town offers. There are good urban transport facilities here, as well as a large number of garages. Private cars have limited access inside the city walls, both because of the restricted amount of space and the complex street layout, and this allows drivers to leave their cars at the gates of the city while they enjoy themselves in the center. Even the banking services, such as the currency conversion services and general tourist assistance are top quality. It would be difficult to get away with anything less than great service here, as after all, this is the home of
The hotels and the restaurants here are extremely welcoming and still maintain the original spirit of the city. This helps to promote a wonderful sense of camaraderie between guests and locals, and visitors who are made to feel welcome leave with an increased respect for this friendly city. People generally flock to Siena for three reasons: art, architecture, and the
One cannot forget about the Palio, which takes place at the large central square, the
Siena is a blessed city that attracts a diverse mix of tourists, thanks to a number of different attractions. It is a university town as well as a center of art and religion, not forgetting a delicious gastronomic culture! As a result, the city caters for a wide variety of visitors. The hotels range from luxury accommodation, which offers comfort and charm in settings that seem to date back to the Middle Ages, to hostels or bed and breakfast lodgings that are perfect for travelers on a more restricted budget. These places are all over the town, all you need to do is look up and you will see them—as fortunately the various types of accommodation are not limited to one area, but rather can be found in all the districts. The city has become ever more welcoming in the last few years, as open borders and increased globalization have led to more tourists and increased competition in the industry. The challenge of innovation has been accepted and won, and the evidence of this can be found in the current range of activities that the city has to offer.
In the surrounding area, there are many quality hotels and lodgings, which have also sprung up in the last few years thanks to the consistent presence of foreign tourists who come for long-term stays. It is no coincidence that some areas are now ironically nicknamed Chiantishire or Toskana Fraktion. This is a particular kind of tourist trend that demands high quality service, and often tourists rent out entire villas with grounds or apartments in town. Even the smallest villages now offer decent accommodation on a level that is high above the norm. There are also good quality, large, youth hostels in the area such as theOstello Guidoriccio.
Agriturismo However, the true growth industry is in the large number of farms that now accept guests, such as the Agriturismo dell'Arnano . The idea of a farm holiday was a foreign invention that was imported to Italy, originally intended to get the holidaymakers to help pick olives or thresh grain; however, this led to the ruination of both the holiday and the crops! The idea started in the Trentino-Alto Adige and Veneto regions but has really found its place in central Italy. The farms now have a much more positive image, and guests can stay in villas or country cottages and have the chance to play all kinds of sports in the fresh countryside air. Archery and horseback riding are particularly popular. These farm holidays also work well because they are near the city and are very cost effective. Guests may also make use of centers that offer a new kind of gourmet tourism, teaching people how best to taste and appreciate local resources. This is an extremely worthy way to avoid the prevailing standardization of food. Guests study dishes before they taste them and learn the history of the oils and wines (the history is just as delicious as the flavors themselves), all of which is part of local culture and merits consideration. There are also many tours dedicated to a single wine or delicacy.
Spas Another attraction worth mentioning is the spas. Chianciano offers spas and hotels, including the Grand Hotel Chianciano Terme, as well as a range of pleasures for those seeking thermal parks with massages, gyms, a dietary center, and courses on well-being. Everything available is of a very high standard- as it should be for one of the most famous thermal water centers in Italy and Europe.
Visiting Siena is like learning to play the guitar. For the basics, all you need is one afternoon. To become an expert, or at least a good player, a lifetime might just be long enough. Siena is small and intimate (it doesn't take long to cross) and is built almost in a circle around the main square of the Campo. To really get to know it, study its history and appreciate the city as it deserves, could take years. Of course, the modern traveler doesn't have much time. Therefore, visitors need to make a series of choices, and also take into consideration that the outskirts of the city should also be visited and appreciated.
Il Campo is the reverse of Venice, where there is only one piazza and the other squares are referred to as campi. Here, there is one campo, or field and the others are the piazza. Anyone wanting to be fussy, can refer to it as the Piazza del Campo. The Campo slants and has a shell shape with a very simple, central, layout that is more of a decoration than a symbol, in nine sections that represent the Council of Nine that once ruled the city. The square faces the Torre del Mangia, the 14th-century tower and the Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall that is full of interest. Nearby is the Palazzo Piccolomini and the Palazzo Sansedoni as well as the Loggia della Mercanzia.
Behind the Loggia is the true heart of the city, which leads into the Via di Città, Banchi di Sopra and the Banchi di Sotto, which is the center of action. Walking up Via di Città, visitors will reach the extraordinary point from where, in a space of a few meters the Duomo, the Spedale Santa Maria Della Scala, the Palazzo del Magnifico and the Museum dell'Opera Metropolitana can all be seen. Not far from here is the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the National Art Gallery. This is the value of Siena, rich in architecture, art and alternative attractions.
Chianti No one could come here and not dedicate at least one day to the Chianti region, in order to taste wine at its source, in season. The same motives, with even more cultural motivation, will lead visitors southwards, towards Montalcino, westwards and eastwards to Montepulciano. A visit to Pienza should also not be missed and Cetona, a medieval, tranquil village, or Turrita Siena, on the border of Umbria. Pienza The town of Pienza was commissioned by Pio II Piccolomini and designed by Bernardino Rossellino. Corsignano transformed Pienza into an ideal Renaissance city in the middle of the fifteenth century the incarnation of a utopia that stretched beyond architecture. Montepulciano is partly set in the Val di Chiana and partly in Val d'Orcia, and is home to monuments and buildings of renaissance interest. It gives the name to the vineyard that produces the Nobile di Montepulciano, which is an experience in itself.
Chiusi The town of Chiusi is of Etruscan origin, with probable earlier Osco-Umbrina settlements. Its height of power was when the Etruscans dominated Rome. The cathedral and the Etruscan museum should both be visited.
Montalcino Montalcino can be reached by taking the Cassia road. This village was the last to give into Cateau Cambresis and to enter the orbit Cosimo I de Medici. It had even rebuilt the Sienese Republic in exile. Nowadays the Civic Museum and the Diocesano and Archaeological Museums are well worth visiting as are the local wine cellars which produce Brunello di Montalcino, one of the best red wines in existence.
San Gimignano San Gimignano is the city of towers and is found on the road leading to Florence. The turreted horizon must be seen at least once, just to understand what it felt like to live in the dark ages. The cathedral, Civic Museum and art gallery, are all worth visiting.
It would have been much too easy to have built a city on a plain, and the builders of many Tuscan cities have always been known for enjoying a challenge. In keeping with this tradition, Siena originated on three hills, on land full of orchards and gardens, and provided tough construction work for even the most ingenious builders. These three hills, bordered by the Elsa and the Arbia, marked out the original three sections of the city. These three sections, Di Città, San Martino, and Camollia, were later joined by over 50 districts, which have now been concentrated into 17. There are several different stories about the foundation of the city. Though originally an Etruscan settlement, it may have long been under the rule of a Gaulish tribe named the Saenones. Others maintain that it was Senio, the son of Remus, who was the founder of the city. The discussion is by now somewhat old and tired, and yet it still monopolizes the conversations here. There is no doubt, however, that the city is of Etruscan origin, and was a part of the Roman Empire under Augustus. Lombards governed the city during the Dark Ages and they were later succeeded by Frankish counts. This state of affairs continued on into the next millennium, when, faced with such a cumbersome Guelph neighbor as Florence, Siena chose to lay its loyalty with rivaling Ghibelline forces. Siena was Ghibelline of sorts until 1186 when it was besieged by imperial forces, but fortunately this rule did not last long and soon the city returned to its former state. The years between 1235 and 1236 were a turning point for the city, as Florence imposed a difficult peace-treaty upon Siena who lost possession of Poggibonsi and Montalcino. Times were also changing on a domestic level, when the nobility were forced to accept a city ruled by a council made up of both noblemen and merchants. In 1260, Siena enjoyed military revenge over Florence at the battle of Montaperti, after which they humiliated the flag of Florence by leading it around the city on a donkey.
Unfortunately, this act of vengeful defiance was to be one of Siena's last, as the fortunes of the empire were in decline. A papal excommunication as a result of the city's Ghibelline allegiance threw off the entire economy, as it legally prevented debtors from paying their dues into Sienese banks. The city was then defeated at Monteriggioni on June 11, 1269 and was facing both military and political defeat as the Ghibelline leader Provenzano Salvani died. A new Guelph city government allied to Florence was formed, and despite the change, this new administration worked better than expected. This was a time of great commercial expansion, artistic exploration, and civic virtue; however, the good times couldn't last forever, and in 1326, there was a period of economic decline, which was in turn followed by the plague in 1348. At this time, the Ghibellines regained power and took over the government alongside Charles IV. Finally, out of desperation, the city came under the control of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, until his death three years later.
These trials and tribulations were hardly isolated in central Italy towards the end of the middle ages. Both from a military and political point of view, the Golden Age saw more flashes of iron and steel weapons than the metal itself. However, one thing is certain: the people who hail from Siena come from a land that has been fed and watered with the blood of its people. In 1530, King Carlo V hurled himself into the fray, and created his own government, but after 20 years a rebellion exploded and the imperialists were hounded out. After an impromptu agreement made with their rival Florence, which neither worked nor lasted, the battle came to a head in 1553, and during the two year siege that followed, the defenders of Siena lived on insects and mice.
The beginning of the so-called "Iron Century" coincided with the end of the cultural age of art and literature, which in the course of a century had seen the likes of Machiavelli, Leonardo, Raffaello, Carpaccio, Crivelli, Bosch, Lotto, Titian, Piero della Francesca, Pontormo, Palladio, Tintoretto, the Della Robbia, Parmigianino and Dürer. The authority of Siena then fell to the Medici clan, was subsequently handed over to the Lorena family, and finally came under the rule of the Savoy dynasty based in Turin. The rest, as they say, is history.