10 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
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: Siena is romantic, small, full of beautiful medieval buildings and less crowded than Florence – to name a few. Here are our top 10 reasons to visit Siena.

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 very long history, dating back to the Etruscan era. The main development of the city happened in the Middle Ages. During that time, the city grew, and many of its most important buildings were built. Today, its unique urban skyline is visible from the hills that surround Siena; rich in monuments, palaces and churches, it is one of Italy’s most beautiful cities.

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To visit Siena’s magnificent cathedral

Church
Duomo di Siena Cathedral with tourists in the piazza
© Lars Johansson / Alamy Stock Photo
Italy is home to many spectacular churches; indeed, there are so many that to name all of them is impossible, but the Duomo of Siena is one of the most beautiful and impossible to miss when in town. It is a Gothic building filled with many treasures. The church exterior is magnificent, but be sure not to miss the interior and a floor decorated with mosaics.
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To have a great base for exploring Tuscan countryside

Historical Landmark
A view of San Gimignano from a distant hill on a sunny evening
© Stephen Hyde / Alamy Stock Photo

Generally speaking, Tuscans love to be outdoors. No town is more than a few minutes from the countryside, so if someone is tired of the chaos and crowds of the city, it’s very easy to spend some time in nature. In Siena, people love to stroll around the city centre’s streets and then go trekking in the nearby countryside.

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To experience the Palio

Stadium
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. It is the main annual event that takes place in this Tuscan city. The Palio is a horse race between the city’s contrade (districts) that occurs two times a year (2 July and 16 August) and is run in the beautiful Piazza del Campo, which is transformed for the occasion into a sand track.
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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. One of the best courses you can eat in town is pici, a kind of pasta similar to spaghetti but fatter and served with pepper and cheese or with tomato sauce. Siena is also famous for its desserts; try ricciarelli, a traditional biscuit made with almonds.
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To shop at the largest market in Tuscany

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

Every Wednesday, it’s 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 also souvenirs. Come here early in the morning, because the market gets more crowded as the day goes on.

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To savour the wine

Building
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 that Tuscany is home to the best wine in Italy. Siena is no exception. The city is located between the Chianti region and Montalcino, so it’s heaven for wine enthusiasts. Wherever you go in the province of Siena, there are different wines to try – just ask for a suggestion at one of the local bars or restaurants.
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To visit Val d’Orcia

Natural Feature
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When you picture Tuscany, you probably 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. Located just south of Siena, it is filled with medieval castles, hilltop towns, charming rural farmhouses, rows of vineyards and cypress trees.
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These recommendations were updated on September 15, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.