Siena’s city center, one of the World’s Heritage Sites
A walk through time
Intricate streets closed to traffic, destinations reachable on foot, alleys and squares with buildings that speak of ancient glories and the medieval urban life: Siena’s historic center seems to be made specifically to go for a walk. And, for the modern visitor, it is much more than a walk, it’s a real journey back in time, between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, in a context that was included in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Siena is a city on a human scale, but with a historical and artistic heritage that has nothing to envy to that of the major art cities. It is the perfect destination for those who seek a destination full of things to do and see, but without the chaos and distances of a large city.
Things to see in Siena’s city center
Thanks to its small size, visiting Siena and the its historic center is a pleasure for everyone. The ancient circle of the city walls includes, in fact, all the major monuments, starting from the complex of the Duomo, a masterpiece of Gothic-Romanesque embellished by the works of artists such as Duccio di Buoninsegna, Pinturicchio, Donatello, Michelangelo and Gian Lorenzo Bernini: just step inside to embark on a real journey among the masters of Italian art history at the turn of at least five centuries, from the thirteenth to the seventeenth century. Nearby, there’s the central Piazza del Campo: for centuries the beating heart from the community of Siena and the irreplaceable stage of the Palio, the shell-shaped square features the Fonte Gaia by Jacopo della Quercia and the Palazzo Pubblico, nowadays the seat of the Civico Musuem with the frescos by Simone Martini and Duccio di Buoninsegna, but especially the Allegory of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in the Sala della Pace. From the Civic Museum you can access theTorre del Mangia, one of Italy’s tallest ancient belltowers, that offers an excellet view on the whole city. To complete your walk in the historic center of Siena, you can entertain yourself hunting its many medieval fountains, like Dante’s Fontebranda or the hidden Fonte del Casato, or wandering through the seventeen districts of the old city. And if the visit of the center made you hungry, it is the right time to stop at a restaurant and taste the typical dishes of the area, before you indulge in a little ‘leisure devoted to shopping in craft shops and local products, rich of original ideas for your souvenirs, from pottery to cantucci biscuits.
Where to stay to visit Siena and its historic center
Accessible by train and served by a convenient train station which is located just outside the historic center, Siena is well suited to be visited on foot by travelers who decide to move from one destination to another by public transport. In this case, it is advisable to stay at a hotel near the historic center, so you can easily reach all points of interest of the city and the station. For those who travel by car and choose to stay outside Siena, the city has several parking lots located at the gates of the historic center closed to traffic, in a prime location, therefore, to begin your visit to this World Heritage Site where the clock of history came to a halt in the Middle Ages.