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Overview

The heart of this beautiful Tuscan city is enormous Piazza del Campo, the venue for the famous semi-annual horse race, the Palio, when running horses and thousands of onlookers fill every inch of its pavement. Surrounding it are monumental facades, including the Palazzo Pubblico, one of Italy's finest Gothic public buildings. The Palazzo contains the Museo Civico, with some of Siena's most treasured masterpieces. Frescoes by Sienese masters decorate the chambers and chapel, among them some of the finest frescoes to survive from medieval times. The chapel features magnificent choir stalls with inlay work from the early 1400s. Also on ...

The heart of this beautiful Tuscan city is enormous Piazza del Campo, the venue for the famous semi-annual horse race, the Palio, when running horses and thousands of onlookers fill every inch of its pavement. Surrounding it are monumental facades, including the Palazzo Pubblico, one of Italy's finest Gothic public buildings. The Palazzo contains the Museo Civico, with some of Siena's most treasured masterpieces. Frescoes by Sienese masters decorate the chambers and chapel, among them some of the finest frescoes to survive from medieval times. The chapel features magnificent choir stalls with inlay work from the early 1400s. Also on Piazza del Campo is the Fonte Gaia, a 15th-century fountain, and Torre del Mangia, a slender 300-foot tower constructed in the mid-1300s. From the top is a view over the surrounding hills and valleys.

The Duomo, Siena's cathedral, is among the most interesting churches in Tuscany, both for its architecture and for the artworks it contains. Its Gothic facade is almost completely covered in intricate stone carvings, and inside is one of the rare surviving Pisano pulpits, so finely sculpted that it hardly seems possible that it is carved of stone. Other works are by Bernini, Michelangelo, Raphael and Donatello. The 15th-century baptistery has frescoed walls and a marble font decorated with reliefs by Donatello and Ghiberti. L'Ospidale di Santa Maria della Scalla now houses the Museo Nazionale Archeologico, with excellent collections of artifacts dating from prehistory to the Roman era, with particularly good Etruscan gold work.

Barbara Rogers
About the Expert

Barbara Radcliffe Rogers has written or coauthored more than 30 guidebooks, including The Portugal Traveler, Drive Around Portugal, City Spots Munich, City Spots Helsinki, City Spots Stockholm, Eating New England, and the Maine section of Thomas Cook's Independent Traveller USA.

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Barbara Rogers for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The capital of the province of Siena located in the hills of the Tuscan region of northeastern Italy.
  • Language: Italian
  • Currency: Euro
  • Research: Wikitravel | Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Unless going to see the Palio in early July and mid-August, avoid these months, when Siena is both crowded and hot.