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Siena has always been compared to Florence; and it keeps being compared, mainly due to the fact that they’re close neighbours. But don’t be fooled: Siena is a whole different story! Siena’s skyline is made up of medieval towers and squares, dreamy backgrounds that shine in pink and many travellers who now now know the drill, search for cheap air tickets to Siena, instead of someplace else. This tiny town of Tuscany boasts an Old Town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and reflects a unique Gothic charm that mesmerises visitors. Where romance meets dynamism, the horse races of Palio remind us of old times while, at the same time, students from all over the world make Siena of Italy’s happiest cities. It’s easy to find cheap accommodation in Siena, so don’t be too long; make your plans now and enjoy a special trip!
Siena, with a population of just 52,000, is one Italy’s most popular tourist destinations. Contrary to Renaissance neighbouring Florence, Siena is mainly Gothic; and it’s fabulous! Siena’s Old Town, all coloured in pink, is a continuous hymn to the School of Siena, a living proof of the old medieval charm and – thank God – all paved!
Apart from its UNESCO World Heritage Site status, Siena is also a famous college town. The University of Siena attracts students from all over the world, allowing further development of Siena’s social life - and lots of entertainment choices.
Beautiful architecture, a great historical heritage, delicious cuisine and a famous nightlife, this is Siena, one of Tuscany’s smallest cities and Italy's greatest travel destinations' most competent rival! You simply can’t afford to miss it!
Pisa’s international airport is the nearest airport to Siena, located 100 kilometres away from the city centre. It can be reached by railway S.P.A. and the Autostradale bus network.
Getting around Siena
You can get around Siena using the extensive bus network, as cars and motorcycles are forbidden within the old town’s limits. Fares start at 0.90€ and minimum taxi fare costs around 12.00€.
Three large hills divide Siena into three parts, known as “terze”. Their three arterial roads meet up at Siena’s central square, Piazza del Campo.
This is the legendary square that used to house the Roman Forum, now serving as the Palio horse races arena and a seat for Siena’s major historical and cultural sights.
- At the square’s base, you’ll find the 14th century Palazzo Pubblico, the best part of which now houses the interesting Museo Civico, Siena’s most important museum.
- Next to the Palazzo Pubblico, the Torre del Mangia is a 102-metre-high tower built in 1348.
”Torre del Mangia” means “The Tower of the Eater” in Italian, a name that can be attributed to Giovanni di Balduccio, a tower’s guard famous for his tendency to spend all his money on food!
Climb the 503 steps leading to the tower’s top and you’ll be awarded with a marvellous panoramic view of Siena. Just be patient; the steps can take only 30 persons at the time, so the waiting queue might be a bit too long!
- Siena’s Cathedral, the Duomo, was constructed during nearly 200 years, from the 12th to the 14th century and is now Italy’s largest Gothic cathedral. The Duomo’s impressive marble façade was designed by the great Giovanni Pisano. Do notice the elegant statues of philosophers and poets decorating the façade and the courtyard, though they’re just the copies; the original ones can be found in the Museo dell’ Opera.
- Opposite the Duomo, you’ll immediately spot the building complex of Santa Maria della Scala, sometimes referred to as a city within a city. Having served as a hospital for more than 1,000 years, the Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala now houses three museums, many chapels, historic halls and exhibitions.
Before you leave Siena, you should absolutely visit the National Gallery (Pinacoteca Nazionale), housed in the Palazzo Buonsignori. The National Gallery’s labyrinth halls house the best of the School of Siena’s artworks; highlights include important byzantine and Gothic items.
Siena’s official language is Italian.