Siena, Italy 360° Travel Guide  Map View

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Siena has given its name to a natural pigment (sienna) sourced in the area in the Middle Ages which when combined with its particular Gothic architecture has created the most distinctive of Italian cities. It covers a large area so we have split this guide into three sections the first covers the area around Siena's Campo, the second the area around the Fortezza and the last around the Duomo and the south of Siena.

Campo & Centre   Zoom In Zoom Out

Piazza il Campo Palazzo Pubblico Fonte Gaia il Campo
Piazza il Campo Palazzo Pubblico Fonte Gaia il Campo

Piazza il Campo (1280-1350) is literally at the heart of Siena and the location of the famous Palio horse races on 2nd July and 16th August. The main building at its base is the Palazzo Pubblico and from here you can gain access to climb the instantly recognisable Torre del Mangia for stunning views of Siena (unfortunately not with a tripod!). At the top end of the Piazza il Campo is the Fonte Gaia il Campo (1409-19) or Fountain of Joy which drew water from 25km of aqueducts.

Costarella dei Barbieri Vicolo di San Pietro Palazzo del Rettorato Piazza Tolomei
Costarella dei Barbieri Vicolo di San Pietro Palazzo del Rettorato Piazza Tolomei

From the Campo small streets climb into the surrounding town: Costarella dei Barbieri and Via Banchi di Sotto circles the top of the Campo which you can look down to at the various intersections; Vicolo di San Pietro. The influence of the University in Siena is evident throughout the city in many historic buildings Palazzo del Rettorato. In the centre of Piazza Tolomei is home to the 13th century Palazzo Tolomei and in its centre a column (1610) with a wolf (according to legend Siena was founded by Remus sons, taking a statue of a wolf from the temple of Apollo in Rome) at its top. Across the piazza is the 12th century Chiesa di San Cristoforo.


Fortezza & North West  Zoom In Zoom Out

Basilica di S.Francesco S.Maria di Provenzano Via dei Rossi Porto D'Ovile
Basilica di S.Francesco S.Maria di Provenzano Via dei Rossi Porto D'Ovile

The late 13th century Basilica di S.Francesco once housed many works of art but these were lost in a fire in 1600. To its side is its former convent, now home of the economics and other faculties of the University of Siena. In the same piazza is the 15th century oratory of San Bernardino. Along and downhill from here is the baroque Chiesa di Santa Maria di Provenzano (1594) home to a banner drappellone given to winners in the Palio as well as paintings by Perugino, Matteo di Giovanni and Sodoma. Via dei Rossi takes you back towards the centre of Siena or you can take the walk down the steep Via del Comune to Porto D'Ovile, but be prepared for the very steep climb back up Via di Vallerozzi.

Palazzo Salimbeni Basilica di San Domenico Public Park Panoramic Fortezza
Palazzo Salimbeni Basilica di San Domenico Public Park Panoramic Fortezza

The 14th century gothic Palazzo Salimbeni stands set back from the road on Piazza Salimbeni and has been the head office of Italy's oldest bank, the Monte dei Paschi di Siena since the late 19th century. The Gothic Basilica di San Domenico (1226-65) with inside the Cappella di Santa Caterina with frescoes (1526) by Sodoma. The Saint's head and finger are within the altar (her body is in Rome). Other predominantly 15th century paintings are displayed inside with Matteo di Giovanni's Madonna and Child with Saints (1479)particularly of note. Walking around the modern sports stadium passing through this attractive public park you will then reach the Fortezza di Santa Barbara (1560) commissioned by Cosimo 1 de' Medici to maintain Florentine control of the city after his 15 month siege of Siena (1554-5). The Fortezza maintained a military role until the end of the eighteenth century. It is now open to the public and used for exhibitions and events.


Duomo & South   Zoom In Zoom Out

Piazza del Duomo Panorama Facciatone Piazza di Postierla Palazzo Chigi Saracini
Piazza del Duomo Panorama Facciatone Piazza di Postierla Palazzo Chigi Saracini

Siena's Gothic Cattedrale di Santa Maria (1215-63) is in (Piazza del Duomo. The facade (which unfortunately was under restoration) dating from more than a century later is particularly impressive as is its richly decorated interior. There were ambitious plans to double the size of the building in the 14th century but the devastation caused on Siena's population by the Black Death meant they had to be abandoned. Nearby you can climb the steps of the Facciatone to its narrow viewing platform for a superb view of Siena, including the Cathedral and the Campo. It generally has a shorter queue than the Torre del Mangia. The 14th century Palazzo Chigi Saracini on Via di Citta' was the seat of the Council of the Republic of Siena before the construction of the Palazzo Pubblico. The Saracini family owned it from the 1770's and made many additions and added works of art and a public museum. It passed to the Chigi family in 1877. In 1932 Guido Chigi Saracini granted part of the palazzo as the seat of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana. In the courtyard, there is a beautiful ancient well.

Piazza del Mercato Via Salicotto Santa Maria dei Servi Santa Maria dei Servi
Piazza del Mercato Via Salicotto Santa Maria dei Servi Santa Maria dei Servi

Behind and below the Piazza Il Campo Piazza del Mercato is Siena's old market square is still a working market the 1886 construction gives it the local nickname of the tartarugone or big tortoise. From here you can look up to the loggias at the rear of the Palazzo Pubblico. Heading south down through an area with many University faculties and the pretty Via Salicotto you will reach the 13th century Basilica di Santa Maria dei Servi has a rough brick facade and tall campanile (bell tower). Inside is Coppo di Marcovaldo's Madonna del Bordone (1261), Rutilio Manetti's Birth of the Virgin (1625), Matteo di Giovanni's Massacre of the Innocents (1491) and Taddeo di Bartolo's Nativity (1404) above the altar.