Siena is an ancient city in Italy with an array of stunning architectural masterpieces of the 17th century, such as Piazza del Campo, Torre del Mangia, and the mesmerizing Tuscan vineyards. Browsing through the Tuscan region will make your stopover at Siena, Italy – a captivating UNESCO-listed town known for its blend of excellent wine, winding streets, brick buildings, and numerous activities that would keep you engaged. We bring you Siena’s must-see attractions that have defined this medieval Italian city.
Getting to Siena
Placed right in the middle of Tuscany, Siena, Italy is easily accessible via train, car, or bus. Florence, the art capital of Italy, is placed just 90 km away from Siena, Italy. You can easily drive down from Pisa city, which is also located 120 km away. In addition, you will find regular trains departing from Florence, Rome, or Milan that will take you to Siena, Italy.
The train station is right outside the city where you get regular buses to the city center and vice versa. Flixbus is a bus service that offers economical bus tickets between 5-15 Euros as a one-way trip from all major Italian cities to Siena, Italy. You can travel via car as well. Be ready to walk or use public transportation at the city center as private vehicles are blocked for entry.
Traveling in Siena
Siena is not a very big city, and you will be impressed walking down the narrow streets decorated with brick buildings and vibrant colors. The medieval city center can be accessed only on foot. Vehicles are not allowed inside the city center. Rent a car if you intend to check out the areas around Siena, use the public bus services to explore destinations such as San Gimignano, or hire a taxi to indulge in day trips.
What to expect in Siena?
There is no formal dialect to converse in Siena. However, the primary language continues to be Italian here. The younger generation uses more English as compared to the older citizens. Learn basic phrases to click with the Italian audiences immediately. The Italians are, in general, friendly and warm. They could be more boisterous and enthusiastic on matters. They like interacting with people and having fun. Hence, knowing some Italian phrases will help you break the ice.
Tipping in Italy is essential depending on the quality and kind of service provided. Tipping is not mandatory here. However, even if you round off to the nearest Euro on the bill, it is deeply appreciated. The ancient destinations will, however, take service charges at some places in your bill.
The best time to visit Siena
Siena is on the Mediterranean coastline and experiences a typical temperate Mediterranean climate, with July being the hottest throughout the year. The best months to explore Siena are April to May and September to October, with temperatures ranging between 16-24 grades. The autumn season will see booming vineyards in full flow and a great season to explore medieval attractions. This month also brings along the iconic Palio horse races at Piazza del Campo. Palio horse races have been held twice a year for four days in July and August for centuries within the city’s main square.
Italy’s weather generally experiences four seasons: the spring season between March to May, the summer season between June to September, the autumn season between October to November, and the winter season between December and February.
Siena must-see attractions
There are several things to do in Siena while enjoying the rusty charm of the streets. First, kick-start your day by exploring the heart of the city center and gradually cover the entire city in one day, enjoying the Tuscan spirit.
Piazza Del Campo
Since 1300, this attraction has been the heart of life in Siena, Italy. The market here used to host Sienese gatherings and critical events such as parties, politics, and simple celebrations. The landmarks such as Torre del Mangia and Palazzo Pubblico are placed within the same square. The Palazzo Pubblico is the parliament of Siena’s government that also houses the Civic Museum. Among the best Siena sightseeing options featuring popular allegories like Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s The Bad and the Good Government.
Fonte Gaia, with its blue waters and enchanting architecture, has caught the attention of the tourist population. The architect of this beautiful fountain is unknown, but its beauty has made it among the major landmarks of Siena city. You will witness many locals using the fountain as a common meeting point as it is easily identifiable. The summers bring amazing bars and terraces to relax and have a great time.
San Domenico church
This impressive Siena sightseeing attraction is characterized by distinctive architecture. Each religious destination in Siena represents a vast history of Siena, Italy, with the San Domenico Church housing a relic of the Holy Head of Saint Catherine. Enjoy a relaxing walk as you browse through beautiful attractions between Piazza del Campo and the Cathedral.
Torre Del Mangia’s Top
You have a wonderful opportunity to witness fabulous city views from Torre del Mangia. It is a must-see hotspot for enjoying fascinating views of the Pizza del Campo, the hills beyond Siena, and the Siena Cathedral. The tower stands proudly at 88 meters, and you will have to pass through 400 steps to reach the top, which is quite an effort.
The construction of the Duomo di Siena began in 1215 and was completed in 1348. This ancient church is completely dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. The Cathedral uses a wonderful fusion of Gothic, Classic, and Romanesque architectural styles. One of its main highlights is its impressive façade housing 35 prophet and patriarchs’ statues grouped around the Virgin Mary statue. Don’t miss the Piccolomini Library, as you will find a great collection of choir books and frescoes painted by Pinturicchio.
Beyond the traditional Italian pasta and pizza, you should try some local dishes unique to Siena. One is Pici, a form of Pasta in Siena prepared from flour and water. With no eggs used in the recipe, the spaghetti is uniquely rough and thick. You can try the Pici Cacio e Pepe, garnished with black pepper and Chinese pecorino cheese, or Pici all-aglione, featuring loads of garlic furnishing and heavy tomato sauce.
There are loads of cheese, sausages, liver varieties, and soup variations offered that are excellent to consume with some great wine. For the ones with a sweet tooth, try panforte, cantucci biscuits, ricciarelli, and cavalluci.
Some of the best tours to indulge in Siena
Bike tour & wine tasting – Take a cycling tour of the Tuscan countryside and vineyards combining the elements of culture and adventure in one tour. A wine-tasting tour gives you a chance to taste the classic Chianti wine.
Cooking classes – Learn specific Italian recipes used precisely as per Siena’s history and culinary techniques.
Fiat 500 – Drive this iconic car enjoying the windy breeze and Medite trips, the charming landscapes of San Gimignano old town, the enchanting Chianti valley, and the strong Montalcino fortress.
Truffle hunting tour – The Tuscan forests offer a deeper insight into the prestigious raw truffles found on earth.
Siena may be a small town but it stands out for its unpretentious allure and unmistakable historical landmarks. If you are planning for a holiday in Italy, don’t leave out Siena – it is a true hidden gem that would surprise you with its loads of attractions and experiences.