Reasons to Visit Siena, Italy

Siena is a charming Tuscan city that’s less crowded than Florence
Siena is a charming Tuscan city that’s less crowded than Florence | © Henk Meijer / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Francesca Masotti
2 September 2021

Ask anyone who has travelled through Tuscany, and they’ll likely tell you Siena is their favourite city in the region. There are many reasons for this; it’s romantic, small, full of beautiful Medieval buildings and less crowded than Florence. Here are our top reasons to visit Siena.

Interested in visiting Siena? It’s just one of many beautiful destinations featured on Culture Trip’s 10-day small-group Northern Italy tour, led by our local insider.

To learn more about the city’s history

Architectural Landmark
Basilica of San Domenico, Basilica Cateriniana, Siena, Tuscany, Italy
© Stefano Paterna / Alamy Stock Photo

Siena has a long history, dating to the Etruscan era, but the main development happened during the Middle Ages. If you’d like to capture all that storied past in one go, head for the hills that surround the city. From here, you can admire the unique urban skyline, with its collection of monuments, palaces and churches. If nothing else, it’s one of the prettiest cities in Italy.

To enjoy the Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo, Siena, Italy
© Striking Images / Alamy Stock Photo
Piazza del Campo is the heart of Siena – a huge shell-shaped space considered one of the great Medieval squares in Europe. The best way to enjoy it? While sipping a coffee in one of the several bars here.

To visit the magnificent cathedral

Duomo di Siena Cathedral with tourists in the piazza
© Lars Johansson / Alamy Stock Photo
Italy is home to many spectacular churches, but the Duomo di Siena is one of the most beautiful. Though the gothic exterior is magnificent, be sure to go inside where you can admire the mosaic-decorated floor.

To climb to the top of Torre del Mangia

Architectural Landmark

It may not be as famous as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but the Torre del Mangia, inside the Public Palace in Piazza del Campo, is the most recognisable landmark in town. To reach the top, you have to climb 400 steps, but the views of the town and countryside are spectacular.

To experience the Palio

The Palio di Siena horse race on Piazza del Campo, Siena, Tuscany, Italy
© Kim Petersen / Alamy Stock Photo
Venice has the Carnival, and Siena has the Palio, a horse race between the city’s contrade (districts) that occurs two times a year (2 July and 16 August). It’s run in the beautiful Piazza del Campo, which is transformed for the occasion into a sand track.

To taste Sienese food

Building, $$$
La Prosciutteria Crudi e Bollicine, Siena
Courtesy of Numero Unico
Once you taste the traditional dishes of Siena, you will fall in love with them. Try pici, pasta similar to spaghetti but fatter and served with pepper and cheese or a tomato sauce. Siena is also famous for desserts; seek out ricciarelli, a traditional biscuit made with almonds.

To shop at the largest market in Tuscany

La Lizza Street market held every Wednesday morning in Siena. Italy.
© Bailey-Cooper Photography / Alamy Stock Photo

Wednesday is market day in Siena. The biggest market in Tuscany is held at La Lizza, an area near the old fortress, from 8.30am to 1.30pm. Vendors sell food, clothes and souvenirs. Come early in the morning; the market gets crowded as the day goes on.

To savour the wine

SAVE WATER, DRINK WINE! The Cantina Pulcino - a picturesque enoteca with restaurant - in Montepulciano (Siena -Tuscany - Italy).
© M@rcel / Alamy Stock Photo
It’s no secret Tuscany is home to the best wine in Italy. Siena is no exception. The city sits between the Chianti region and Montalcino, so it’s heaven for wine enthusiasts. Wherever you go in the province, there are different wines to try – just ask for a suggestion at one of the local bars or restaurants.

To visit Val d’Orcia

Natural Feature
© Brian Jannsen / Alamy Stock Photo
When you picture Tuscany, you may imagine rolling green hills with a lone cypress on the horizon. This kind of breathtaking landscape is common in Val d’Orcia, perhaps the most picturesque area in the region. Just south of Siena, it is filled with Medieval castles, hilltop towns, charming rural farmhouses, rows of vineyards and cypress trees.
These recommendations were updated on September 2, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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