Siena is a breathtakingly beautiful city that stretches over three hills connected by a labyrinth of medieval lanes, and surrounded by the olive groves and vineyards of Chianti.
At its heart is the town’s 13th century main square, the fan-shaped Piazza Del campo, where the Pallio horse race takes place yearly on the 2nd of July and 16th August. While it may be one of Italy’s most famous annual sporting events, the Pallio is as much about Sienese pride and pageantry as it is about the actual bareback race.
South west of the square is Siena’s cathedral, one of the most prominent examples of gothic architecture in Italy. Built between 1215 and 1263 with contributions from some of Italy’s most famous architects and artists, it is certainly a must see in Siena, as is the Torre del Mangia – where you can climb to the top for a spectacular view of the city – and the Piccolomini Library.
Although there are many attractions to see in this small but vibrant city, one of the most wonderful things to do is to stroll through the streets and seek out the city’s seventeen districts – or contrada – each marked by its own symbol of caterpillar, dragon, eagle, forest, giraffe, goose, owl, panther, porcupine, ram, shell, snail, tortoise, tower, unicorn, wave or wolf.
Siena boasts one of the most beautiful countrysides in Italy and no trip would be complete without exploring the surrounding areas such as San Gimignano and Chianti.
And no such exploration would be complete without tasting some of the delicious wines from these regions.