A city break in Siena is like strolling through a living museum. This compact city is full of ornate gothic townhouses and churches, adorned with frescoes and paintings by Italian masters. Soak up the atmosphere in buzzing Il Campo Piazza, get to know the unique character of the city’s neighbourhoods, or ‘contrades’, then retreat to the comfort of your boutique hotel.
A medieval masterpiece of a city, packed with art, architecture and spectacular special events.
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.
Escape the city for a day. Visit the charming medieval village of Casole d’Elsa, perched on a hilltop outside Siena.
Top tip from SLH