The 10 things to see when visiting Siena

Among the soft green folds of the landscape of central Tuscany, right in that valley between the famous hills of Chianti and the Crete Senesi, stands Siena. A city universally known for its Palio, which can be discovered with a guided tour, with a medieval urban layout, it attracts millions of tourists from all over the globe every year: let’s find out together what makes it unique through 10 things to see in Siena.
What to see in Siena: the Piazza del Campo
The marvelous medieval village of Siena, perfectly preserved within the red city walls, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995: almost 30 years ago, therefore, the invaluable value in terms of conservation of this unmissable was already understood capital of Tuscany. You can also visit Siena with a medieval themed game, to discover all its stories and secrets in a fun way.
What is striking about Siena is how much, despite having been transformed into a city to all intents and purposes, it has kept its originality intact; in Siena, in fact, there hasn’t been such an industrial development as to affect the appearance of the town which, seen from above, looks like a postcard from another era: with its red brick buildings on which the tidy roofs, like colorful hats.
Among the things to do in Siena, the first is to admire its heart: the Piazza del Campo. With its shell shape divided into nine segments, every year since around 1200, it is the theater where the famous Palio di Siena takes place, during which the jockeys representing the various districts challenge each other in a competition on horseback.
Furthermore, the slight inclination enjoyed by the square makes it particularly comfortable: it is not strange to meet tourists sitting down to refresh themselves while observing the harmony of the space that surrounds them.. indeed it is almost an obligatory stop in a day in Siena!
The Public Palace of Siena
Taking a small step back in the history of Siena, the town lived its period of greatest splendor under the so-called Government of the Nine: it is one of the main magistracies of the Republic of Siena, in power between 1287 and 1355, also known as Good Government precisely to underline the magnificence of his work. It was, in fact, during this historical period, under the Government of the Nine, that numerous important buildings were designed and completed, including the majestic Palazzo Pubblico.
Therefore, among the things to see in Siena in one day, a visit to the historic building, located right on the Piazza del Campo, cannot be missed. Outside you will be struck by: the three-mullioned windows, characterized by three Gothic arches resting on small columns, the carditoie – loopholes from which stones were thrown during battles – and the characteristic crenellated walls embroidered like lace.
Even the interior, then, is no less hosting in addition to the famous “Allegory and effects of good and bad government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, many works by artists of the caliber of Simone Martini, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Sodoma and Beccafumi.
The Tower of Mangia
Right next to the building and to complete its harmony, an architectural element of no small importance: the tall and slender Torre del Mangia is a must during a visit to Siena in one day.
Yes, but who was the Mangia? Nothing less than one of the Nine, accustomed to good food and for this reason addressed with the nickname of Mangiaguadagni, shortened to Mangia!
With its 88 meters, it is the fourteenth Italian tower for height.
The red crenellated civic tower also houses a clock and a large bell: it can be considered a natural lightning rod, due to the amount of iron it contains in its supports!
The Cathedral of Siena
What to see in Siena? Well, after this overview of the Piazza del Campo with the adjoining Palazzo Pubblico and Tower – symbolic elements of civil architecture – it is also appropriate to explore the religious building par excellence of the city: the Cathedral of Siena.
The imposing Church dedicated to Maria Assunta leaves you speechless even in front of its majestic facade: in Italian Romanesque-Gothic style, with the typical Tuscan decorations in white, red Siena marble and Prato serpentine. It is curious to observe, then, how a temporal and artistic subdivision can be observed on the façade: the lower part, dating back to the end of the 1200s, is the work of Giovanni Pisano; the upper part – on the other hand – was completed by another hand and in another era: Caimano di Crescentino in the first half of the 1300s.
Inside, it is impossible not to mention the splendid Piccolomini library frescoed by Pinturicchio, to be visited in combination with the Duomo with a priority ticket, and the nearby Piccolomini chapel which, between 1501 and 1504 saw the work of the masters who completed its construction, Michelangelo.
The floor of the Siena CathedralIf the exterior is already a marvel in itself, however, it will be the interior of the Duomo that will leave you speechless. In fact, we are talking about the one-of-a-kind floor, made with graffiti. Carried on for centuries  between 1300 and 1800 by numerous Sienese artists, it is made exceptional by the marble inlay technique which requires that the floor be covered with so-called inlays representing the most varied figures.
From the Sibyls, to the she-wolf suckling the twins, passing through the Hermes Trismegistus: these are just some of the figures carved into the floor of the Cathedral of Siena, which however is not always usable. Because of its extreme delicacy it is, in fact, almost entirely protected with a cover, but it is completely uncovered from June to August and for a few days during the month of October. It really is a Siena must-see that is worth ensuring by purchasing your ticket in advance!
The door of heaven
The name says it all: in Siena in one day it is one of the things you cannot miss. It is a visit itinerary on the top of the Duomo factory, which winds through a series of previously inaccessible rooms, traveled over the centuries only by the Great Masters who contributed to the construction of the Duomo. Literally, a walk above the starry vaults of the church, in and out of the sacred temple admiring suggestive panoramas, incredible glimpses and breathtaking views
The facade of the cathedral
Perhaps not everyone knows that, around the year 1339, the Cathedral of Siena was preparing to undergo an expansion project and, what is now the current Cathedral, would have been only the transept of the New Cathedral. The works began with great pomp, but unfortunately they were quietly interrupted due to an epidemic of plague, first, and due to strong political and economic instability, then.
Of the imposing enlargement design, what remains to this day are only the new right aisle – which currently houses the Opera Museum – and the wall that was to become the new facade of the Cathedral, the so-called Facciatone.
Colossal, imposing, incomplete but beautiful: from the other side of the Facciatone – which can be reached by climbing many and many steps – you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Siena and the surrounding countryside. Probably one of the privileged places to watch the sunset turn the landscape red, the Facciatone is fully one of the places to visit in Siena still little known to the masses.
Siena Cathedral Opera Museum
Right next to the imposing Church, in what could have been the new right aisle in the expansion plan, the Siena Opera Museum is hidden.
Inside, protected from the passage of time, numerous works from the Cathedral and the Diocese rest, fruit of the ingenuity, passion and hand of artists such as Jacopo della Rovere, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Giovanni Pisano and Pietro Lorenzetti: for art lovers it is one of the most important things to see in Siena.
The Catherine Basilica of San Domenico
Just outside the walls of the historic center, but still within walking distance, stands the great Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico.
Although it is linked to the cult of San Domenico, inside it houses a chapel in the name of Santa Caterina which houses one of her most sacred relics: the head of the holy woman. In fact, the major mystical events in the life of the Saint took place within the walls of this place.
It is by no means a sumptuous church and the exterior is probably more striking than the interior, bare, very tall and with a single large nave. The strong point of the place is the privileged view it offers over the entire village of Siena and the play of reflections of the natural light of the sun, which make the color of its bricks different as the hours go by.
Things to do in Siena: taste the Ricciarelli
Well: after so much walking, climbing steps, admiring works, retracing the history of one of the most interesting towns in Italy, even the gorge wants its share and why not take the time to book a gastronomic tour? Visiting Siena in one day it would be a cardinal sin to leave without having tasted at least one ricciarello, or a small typical sweet made of marzipan and almond flour. Although they are preparations that are typically baked during the Christmas holidays, they can now be found in shops in Siena all year round.
But did you know that the Ricciarelli di Siena, back in 2010, were the first confectionary product to obtain the PGI mark from the European Union?

Related news

popular today