Tag Archive | history

Siena, Italy

On Friday, my friends and I decided to look into booking trains for that night to go to Vienna and then come back home Sunday morning. Unfortunately, because of last minute planning, we were unable to find tickets back to Florence at an appropriate time.  Thinking of a possible day trip in Italy that we could do, I thought of Siena. Siena rhymes with Vienna, so that will do, right?

Siena is a small town in Tuscany, about an hour and half away from Florence.  It is a historic town with many beautiful sites that attract thousands of tourists each year.  It is very well known for the Palio, a horse race, that is held twice a year. Unfortunately, neither are during the fall semester. But my professor said that it is an amazing experience and if one gets the opportunity to go they should definitely take it.

There is not as much to do in Siena as there is to see, but what there is to see is breathtaking. (I will include a lot of photos in this post, don’t worry).

There were many buildings to see, such as St. Catherine’s, the black and white Duomo, and the giant chess board. I was told the chess set was a main attraction.  I still don’t understand its purpose. Is it just to look at, or can we actually play?

Giant Chess Set

Siena Duomo


Il Campo, which is the main piazza, is shaped like a semi-circle with shops surrounding it and the Palazzo Pubblico and Torre del Mangia as the main attraction. There is also a beautiful fountain in the Campo with detailed carvings.

Il Campo

As we were determining what to do first, a loud boom went off (my friend thought it was a gun shot) and confetti exploded by the doors of the Palazzo Pubblico as a newly wed couple walked out with rice being thrown at them. Actually, it was more of a pelting. It seemed like they were getting overwhelmed by the amount in their eyes.  But, following them was a woman dressed in a jester’s outfit; I really hope it was a themed wedding.

We entered the Torre del Mangia and decided to walk up the 300 steps to the top of the tower to what promised to be an amazing view. The entrance fee was only eight euro, and I would definitely say worth it.

Torre del Mangia/Palazzo Pubblico

The beginning of the path was worrisome; closed stone hallways with short doorways.  It eventually opens up more and we were able to see bits of outside on the way up, which is comforting to those with claustrophobic tendencies.  Eventually we reached the top of the tower, but wait- there’s more stairs leading up past the bells.  The reward for making it all the way up was the magnificent sight.  We were able to see all of Siena, and past it, the rural green hills and lands of Tuscany.  It was picturesque.

300 steps later

Il Campo from above

view from top of stairs

tight staircase

We ate lunch outside at a typical Italian restaurant.  Had some of the famous, delicious Tuscan white wine.  I also tried a sauce with wild boar meat in it. It was good, but I just kept on thinking of Pumba from The Lion King.

After lunch, we came across a Torture Museum, which linked us back to the medieval history of Siena.  Many of the items can be seen in the “Saw” movies.  I never realized how many instruments were created to use for torture. The images provided were grotesque; it is difficult to handle the fact that people were treated that way.  It is even more difficult to realize that many of the methods are still used today in different countries.  It is all very interesting, to say the least.

Ceiling of Torture Museum

I wasn’t feeling well that day (and no one had much of an appetite of the museum), so we decided to skip the wineries and just lay out with the other sunbathers on stones of  Il Campo.  It was a beautiful day and laying there allowed us to soak in our surroundings, our company, and the history of Siena.

Relaxing at il Campo

La storica is history, an important aspect of all of Italy.