Siena On the Road

Siena, Italy
Siena in Tuscan countryside was first founded by the Etruscans around 900 BC, who also brought with them the extensive irrigation systems to the area…We can thank the Etruscans in part for the excellent fresh produce from Tuscany! Siena once had an important role in wool production, and are credited with inventing banking in Italy - this was undoubtedly an important medieval city. You’ll find mentions of Siena all throughout legends, history, and even in (relatively) more recent roles in film and popular culture.

Take a walk along the twisting medieval alleyways and see the many beautiful alleys and side streets Siena has to offer you. The grand buildings and architectural treasures are seen at almost every angle, and the wealth of the area is unmistakeable. Take your time exploring this city, and try doing it away from the busloads of tourist that come here for day trips. Siena is what you’d expect a Tuscan town to be - once the tourist groups are gone that is.

Make sure that you check out Siena’s famous Duomo, in typical Sienese black and white architecture, built in the 12th century and a great example of Italian Romanesque style. The Church of Sant’Agostino dates back to 1258 with various art pieces that are worth seeing inside. Right by the Duomo there's the Battistero di San Giovanni that's in Piazza San Giovanni and dates back to the first half of the 14th century.

But don’t forget the Piazza del Campo, a massive and individual hexagonal town ‘square’. It's right by the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia. Climb the tower and view the city’s rusty rooftops, and the intriguing shape of the stunning Piazza del Campo. While you’re up there, imagine the chaos in the piazza when the famous Palio is on twice a year! The Palio is a spectacular tradition, that runs on the 2nd of July ad 16th of August. Twice a year, this piazza turns into a small, tight race track, with bare-backed riders racing for neighbourhood pride and dignity. It runs on strong neighbourhood rivalry and draws massive crowds each year.

Around the piazza, you’ll find the ever present Italian outdoor cafes and restaurants serving great food. Sit down at one of the tables (or better yet, smack bang in the middle of the square) and watch the people passing you by.

For some museum time, there's the Siena Civic Museum which houses various masterpieces by Italian artists which show the times of 14th through 18th century. There's the Botanic Garden, near the Santa Maria della Scala hospital.

The pasta specialty of Siena is pappardelle, wide strips of pasta with a meat sauce such as wild boar or hare and ribollita which have various sheep cheese and sausages. For salads there is faigoli all'uccellettto which is a light salad with soaked bread, basil, tomatoes and onions. I would also try cinta senese which is a breed of pig that is only exsistant in Chinti, cacio pecorino chesse and the olives from the country side. Sweets are even more tempting - biscuits made from almond paste, honey and vanilla (called ricciarellis).

Nightlife during the summer there are often music festivals and concerts where there are public gathering areas. In the winter you will find some of these but not as many. They will be held indoor; there you can find the same great quality of jazz and classical music