Things to do
Siena is packed with awe-inspiring reminders of its glory days as a prosperous 13th-century centre of trade and learning. Visit the towering cathedral, with its intricately carved stonework and centuries-old frescoes. Or drop by the house where St Catherine, patron saint of Italy, grew up.
ART & CULTURE
Just as nearby Florence is famed for its Renaissance masterpieces, so Siena is renowned as the hub of Italian gothic art. The Pinacoteca Nazionale gallery houses a magnificent collection of religious paintings that shimmer with gold leaf. Instead, you could while away an afternoon at the Museo Civico, which boasts 14th-century frescoes – many unusually depicting secular subjects.
Twice a year, Siena’s streets fill with the sound of cheers and cantering hooves for the thrilling Siena Palio – a historic bareback horse race. Watch jockeys dressed in the traditional colours of their neighbourhood race around Il Campo Piazza in a fierce competition for the ‘palio’ silk flag. The race itself is over in under two minutes, but the days leading up to it are filled with processions, music and celebrations.