Tuscany is a rich cultural experience no matter which city you find yourself exploring, and among the finest Tuscan cities, Siena is an excellent blend of interesting traditions, fascinating culture and unique opportunities. You’ll find a host of things to do and see in Siena and many of them are a far cry different than what you’d expect in larger cities like Rome and Florence.
Siena is well known for many things, but one of the most popular events in the city is the annual horse race called Il Palio. A historic festival, the seventeen neighborhoods of Siena all compete against one another in a horse race in the center of town. The Piazza del Campo is prepared for the race and the seventeen neighborhoods draw for a spot in the race a few days ahead of time. The day is a very full experience of the best Siena has to offer starting with a special mass, leading into parades and processions in the afternoon and culminating in the race toward the end of the day.
Siena has a nice sampling of everything Tuscany has to offer. There are fun festivals alongside wine tasting and delicious foods. You can also visit vineyards, olive groves and medieval hill towns all within a few miles of Siena. Inside the city you can enjoy visiting the medieval bell tower, Torre del Mangia. 505 steps will take you to the top where you can take in the breathtaking views of the city and surrounding countryside.
Just two or three hours outside of Rome, you can make Siena a very full day trip if you’re based in the bigger city, or you can pack up your things and come and stay in one of the charming inns located in the city. Siena makes an excellent base for exploring the various areas of Tuscany and poking around in the countryside – something certainly not offered in the larger Rome.
You can reach Siena by car, but understand that traffic is limited once you’re inside the city walls. You might do better to approach the city by train or bus from Rome or from Milan if you’ve flown into the big airport there or you can fly more directly to the region by heading to Florence or Pisa. Regardless, once you arrive in Siena, stay for a while to enjoy the rich experience the city has to offer.