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Siena

Travel Guide Europe Italy Tuscany Siena

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Introduction

La Torre

La Torre

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Siena in Tuscany, also spelled Sienna, is one of the most stunning hill top towns in all of Italy. The traditional rival of Florence this city is often overlooked by tourists in favor of its rival. It is sad because Siena is amazing city in its own right with one of the best old towns in all of Italy and the stunning central plaza of Piazza del Campo should not be missed. Especially if your lucky enough to catch of the amazing horse race of The Palio held in it twice a year.

Brief History

The city area was first settled during the first millennium BC as an Etruscan village. Although the city was not mentioned in Roman records until AD 70. The cities Roman origins can still be seen in the town's emblem of a female wolf breast feeding the infants of Romulus and Remus. Local legends hold that Siena was founded by Senius a son of Remus. No one is really sure if this is were Siena gets its name because there have been many other Siena sounding groups or events in the towns history.

Under Roman rule the city was a bit of backwater but it grew in power when roads had to rerouted to avoid Byzantine raids along the coast. This also brought many Christian pilgrims into the city on their way to Rome, giving Siena additional wealth. This led to the erosion of the power of the church and by 1179 Siena had written its own constitution and founded a republic. The 13th and 14th century were considered the high times in Siena society even with the occasional war with Florence.

Sadly during the 15th and 16th century city's power declined and the Spanish conquered Siena with the help of Florence in 1555. King Charles of Spain owned so much money to the powerful Florentine Medici family that he gave Siena and some coastal areas to Florence adding to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Thus marking the end of the Republic of Florence.

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Neighbourhoods

Most of the tourist sights are located within the old town. The old town is pretty easy to navigate by foot.

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Sights and Activities

Siena cathedral interior

Siena cathedral interior

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Siena Cathedral

Siena Cathedral, in Italian Duomo di Siena, is the main church in Siena. This cathedral was built between 1215 to 1263 in the shape of a latin cross. The interior and exterior are designed with white and greenish black marble in altering stripes, these are symbolic colors to Siena. There is also red marble on the façade. On the outside of the church the erie remains of a started expansion can be seen when walking around the exterior on the south end of the church. This expansion would have doubled the size of the church was only stopped because of the bubonic plague in 1348. The inside has great artwork and several interesting relics including a depiction of the Slaughter of the Innocents.

Other Churches

  • Basilica dell'Osservanza - Located on the outskirts of town this church was built in 1490 and has a Renaissance style with a Baroque feel. The church was totally destroyed during World War II and was completely rebuilt form photos and evidence from monks.
  • Basilica of Santa Maria dei Servi, also known as Can Clement, is an interesting church with several styles represented in it.
  • Basilica of San Domenico, also known as Basilica Cateriniana, was built between 1226 and 1265 but was enlarged in the 14th century giving it a Gothic make over. Interesting the interior is lined up on an Egyptian cross.
  • Basilica of San Francesco was built in the 13th century and has an Egyptian Cross floor plan. The present day interior looks more neo-Gothic then the original construction.
  • Santo Spirito has a nice Renaissance style portal and was built in 1504.
  • San Martino was built in the 12th century with the facade complete in 1613 and tower in 1738.

Other Sights and Activities

  • Piazza del Campo, located at the centre of town, is one of the most splendid plaza's in all of Italy. It is also the location of The Palio, an amazing horse race.
  • Palazzo Pubblico, the town hall, is located right on the Piazza del Campo. Its stunning tower, Torre del Mangia, can be seen anywhere in the city and gives an impressive feel. The interior is filled with amazing public art mainly from the Republic period with strong feelings of freedom and liberty. Several hours can be spent looking at these fine examples of political art.
  • Monte dei Paschi di Siena, located on Piazza del Campo, is the oldest continuous bank in existence.

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Events and Festivals

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  • Palio di Siena is one of the most intense horse races in the entire world. The different districts of the city compete in this festival to have control of the city centre. 10 riders, wearing the right colors, represent the 16 different districts and the horse to cross the line first, even without the rider, is considered the winner. Held twice a year on July 2nd and August 16, this even is extremely popular and make sure to book seats and hotel rooms far in advance.

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Weather

Siena's weather is comparable to the average weather in Italy. A Mediterranean climate with mild but wet winters and dry and warm/hot summers, with temperatures mostly around 30 °C from June to early September. Winters can get quite cold sometimes and a sweater or jacket is absolutely necessarry. Snow is rare.

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Getting There

By Plane

The nearest airport is in Florence.

By Train

It is possible to reach Siena by train from Florence and Pisa, although it requires a change in Empoli. Remember to note that the train station is located at the bottom of the hill outside the city walls. If you have lots of luggage you might want to take taxi

By Bus

Buses come and go from Piazza Gramsci, located within the old town. Buses go directly from Florence, near the Florence train station, and takes an hour. It is also possible to get buses to and from Rome, 3 hours, and Milan, 4.5 hours.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
A Casa MiaVia E.S.Piccolomini 125, 53100 SienaGuesthouse-
Agriturismo La SelvaStrada Pian del Lago 19Guesthouse-
Albergo La PerlaVia Delle Terme N. 25 Piazza Indipendenza 25Hotel83
Arcobaleno Boutique Hotel SienaVia Fiorentina 32/40 TuscanyHotel89
Borgo AnticoVia Di Lucignano 405 Monteroni D'ArbiaHotel-
Camping Siena ColleverdeStrada Shiacciapensieri 47 SienaCampsite76
Casa Vacanze il CampoVia Salicotto n. 73Apartment91
Castello di SelvoleLoc. Selvole, Vagliagli SelvoleApartment93
Fattoria di CavaglioniVia del Poggetto 1 San Rocco a Pilli SovicilleGuesthouse93
Gli Angeli B&BVia Cassia Sud, 106Guesthouse-
Hotel 1000 MigliaVia Cassia sud Monteroni d'ArbiaHotel-
Hotel Antica Torrevia Fieravecchia 7Hotel86
Hotel ChiusarelliViale Curtatone, 15Hotel-
Hotel MinervaVia Garibaldi 72Hotel84
Hotel Palazzo di Vallivia Piccolomini 135Hotel-
Hotel San MarcoVia (strada) Massetana, 70 sienaHotel-
Hotel Villa BelvedereStrada Sesnese Colle di Val D'ElsaHotel81
Il Colombaio Bed & BreakfastPodere Il Colombaio 12 TorriGuesthouse-
L'Aia ResidenceVia Uopini, 11 Via Fiorentina, 95Hotel-
La Vecchia Cartieravia Oberdan,5/7/9 Colle Val D'ElsaHotel-
Le Camerine di SilviaVia E. Bastianini 3Guesthouse88
Miniresidenze CiompiVia Del Porrione,91Hostel82
Oasi Del GrilloLocalita Colonna Del Grillo 5 Castelnuovo Berardenga (Siena)Apartment91
Residence ParadisoVia del Paradiso, 16Guesthouse92
Sangallo Park HotelStrada di Vico Alto, 2Hotel-
Soggiorno Lo StellinoVia Fiorentina, 95Guesthouse88
Villa Piccola SienaVia Petriccio Belriguardo, 7 Via Massetana Romana, 2Guesthouse85
Villa CenninaStrada provinciale di Celsa 195 - Località Cennina SovicilleGuesthouse-
Fullino NeroStrada del Petriccio e Belriguardo 166-168 - SIENAHotel-
B&B Dei RossiVia Stalloreggi 14/16GUESTHOUSE89
B and B il Canto del SoleVia di Villa Canina,1292 Loc. Cuna -Monteroni d'ArbiaGuesthouse95
Agriturismo la Grotta di MontecchinoVia Grossetana, 87 S. Andrea a MontecchioGuesthouse91
Albergo Cannon D'OroVia Montanini 28Hostel92
Casa di AntonellaVia delle Terme 72Guesthouse91
Miniresidence Villa FioritaViale Cavour, 75Guesthouse90
Piccolo Hotel il PalioPiazza del Sale 19Hotel83
Hotel AlexVia G. Gigli, 5Hotel-
Hotel Palazzo Dei PrioriStrada di Montalbuccio 31Hotel91
Hotel CastelloSan Rocco a Pilli Loc. CastelloHotel86
La Residenza delle BadesseVia della Resistenza, 67- Loc. BadesseHotel-
Casa Vacanze B&B Santa CaterinaSp 438 Via Lauretana Antica, Loc. Santa Caterina-MenchiariGuesthouse-
Laticastelli Country RelaisRapolano TermeGuesthouse-
Fattoria di CorsignanoVia Tognana 4 Castelnuovo BerardenaHotel-
Residence AriannaVia Tom Benetollo 23 RosiaApartment-
B&B La Casa del ConteVia Stalloreggi n.14/16Hostel88
B&B Gli Archistrada Petriccio Belriguardo 98GUESTHOUSE87
L'Albergaccio ApartmentStrada Cassia Sud 158A - 162Apartment-
CasafrassiVia Chiantigiana 40 Castellina in ChiantiHotel-
Palazzo MasiCasato di Sotto 29Guesthouse89
La Loggia-Villa GloriaLoc. Maciallina - QuercegrossaHotel-
Agriturismo Allevamento RenaccinoStrada di Renaccio 20Guesthouse-
Casa Di AlfredoLelio e Fausto Socino 4Guesthouse85
B&B San FrancescoVicolo Degli Orbachi 2GUESTHOUSE-
Bed & Breakfast Il CasatoVia Giovanni Duprè 126GUESTHOUSE86
CasalbergoViale Camillo Benso di Cavour 76Guesthouse84
Villa LunaStrada di Marciano 34Apartment-
Villa SoleStrada di Marciano 36Apartment-
Due Archi ApartmentStrada di Marciano 35Apartment-
Campo Regio RelaisVia della Sapienza 25Guesthouse-
Relais Borgo San LuigiStrada della Cerreta 7 MonteriggioniGUESTHOUSE-
La Torre Di CorsanelloStrada di Radi-Corsano 3978 Q Ville di CorsanoAPARTMENT-
I TRE RIONIVia Campotondo 3 Ang. Via FiumeGuesthouse-
B&B Duccio di Buoninsegnavia Banchi di Sopra,6GUESTHOUSE88
Villa Poggio Al SoleSiena S. Rocco a Pilli, 3 kmAPARTMENT-
Casa LauraVia Roma 3Guesthouse-
Residenze d'Epoca Coli BizzarriniPiazza Gramsci 27, SienaAPARTMENT-
Lorenzini Rooms 2via Aretina,158GUESTHOUSE-
I Tre Rionivia Campotondo, 3Guesthouse-
Villa il BorghettoVia Tufi 64Apartment-
B&B Il CorsoBanchi di Sopra, 6GUESTHOUSE-
Fonti di Pescaiastrada di Pescaia, 4 via Chiarugi, 1GUESTHOUSE82
B&B Quattro Cantonivia San Pietro, 30GUESTHOUSE-
Agriturismo La TorrettaStrada di Sant'Apollinare 6Guesthouse-
La ToraiaLocalità La FrattaGUESTHOUSE-
Le CampaneVia delle Campane 4GUESTHOUSE86
Casa Cecchi SienaStrada D'Istieto 71GUESTHOUSE-
I Terzi di SienaVia dei Termini 13GUESTHOUSE-
La Magione di CamolliaVia Camollia 179GUESTHOUSE-
Case vacanza RomitorioVia Del Romitorio, 3Guesthouse-
Piccolo Hotel EtruriaVia delle Donzelle 3HOTEL88
Casa di RobertoVia Piave 4GUESTHOUSE86
Castello di MonteliscaiStrada Chiantigiana, 68GUESTHOUSE-
Agriturismo MalafrascaStrada Chiantigiana 109HOTEL-
Tenuta BelsedereLocalità Ganghereto53020 Trequanda (SI) SienaAPARTMENT-

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Keep Connected

Internet

Almost all towns and cities in Italy have internet cafes. A growing number of budget hostels and nicer hotels have free Wifi. By law all public-access internet points must keep records of web sites viewed by customers, and even the customer's ID: expect to be refused access if you don't provide identification. Hotels providing Internet access are not required to record IDs if the connection is provided in the guest's room, although if the connection is offered in the main public hall then IDs are required. Publicly available wireless access without user identification is illegal, so open Wi-Fi hotspots (like the ones you might expect to find in a mall or cafée) all have some form of (generally one-time) registration.

Phone

See also: International Telephone Calls

The main networks are TIM (Telecom Italia Mobile, part of Telecom Italia, formerly state controlled), Vodafone, Wind, and 3 (only UMTS cellphones). Best advice is to buy a prepaid SIM card (from € 10 upwards) and a cheap mobile phone (€ 19 upwards) to put it in (if you don't have a cellphone already that you can use). It will be much more practical. All land line numbers start with 0. Mobile numbers start with 3. Numbers starting with 89 are high-fee services. In case of emergency call the appropriate number from the list below. Such calls are usually free and calls to 112, 113 (police), 115 (fire), 118 (health) can be made from payphones for free without the need of inserting coins. 112 (standard emergency number in GSM specification) can be dialed in any case for free from any mobile phone.

Post

Post Italiane is the national postal services of Italy and has quite an efficient network of postal offices and reliable postal services. Standard letters and postcards (up to 20 grams) cost €0.39 to send within Europe and the Mediterranean countries outside Europe and €0.41 to all other destinations throughout the country. Up to 50 grams, prices start at €0.52 for Europe, €0.62 for other areas. Packages start at €1.55 within Europe, and around €2.50 for other countries. Post office business hours in Italy are from 8:30am to 2:00pm from Monday to Friday, with closing times at Saturday and the last day of the month at 12 noon. In general, larger post offices in bigger cities and in tourist areas keep longer hours than those in local towns. Also note that business hours in the south might be different than the north, with longer hours at night, especially in summer! If you want to send packages you might try faster and more reliable/efficient private courier companies like TNT, UPS or DHL.

Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 43.3186614
  • Longitude: 11.3305135

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This is version 11. Last edited at 9:00 on Jun 28, 13 by Utrecht. 10 articles link to this page.

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