Siena Italy tourist information - Skyline picture from photo gallery
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History of Siena
According to legend Siena was founded by Senio, the son of Remus one of the two founders of Rome. The origin for the name of Siena, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and in the world, is still a matter of research. Some attribute it to the Etruscan family of the Saina, some to the Roman family of the Saenii. It is certain that its development only took off in the Middle Ages, when it expanded towards three nucleuses which later became known as the "tertiary ": the original city center, San Martino and Camollia.

A Ghibelline city, Siena often crossed swords with the Florentine Guelfs in epic and cruel battles that forged the history of medieval Italy. One of the most famous battles was Montaperti on 4 September 1260, when the Sienese routed the Florentines. The city reached its peak of splendor in the 1300’s, when most of the civic monuments were built and the construction of the monumental new Duomo, or church, was attempted. In 1348, however, Siena was laid low by the Black Death, which like an earthquake exterminated three fifths of the population. After a period of obscurity and alternating domination by other powers, in 1559 Siena became part of the grand duchy of Tuscany, effectively losing its own independence.

With its brilliant Tuscan Gothic buildings, Siena is a jewel of world-wide fame. However, its surroundings also merit consideration. The natural beauty of the Tuscan countryside carries equal weight to the fascination of its perfectly-conserved medieval cities, for example San Gimignano

Siena may be the best-preserved medieval city in Italy, thanks to its conquest by Florence nearly 500 years ago. While the Florentines were busy launching the Renaissance, the Senese played the role of country cousins--and as a result, Siena (or at least the walled portion of the city) still looks much as it did in the Middle Ages.

Few areas in the world can boast the variety of landscape and economy distinguishing the territory of Siena. It begins in the north with the incomparable scenic beauty of the Chianti lands, with their patchwork of vines and olive trees standing out in orderly rows against the hills tamed by the farmers' skill. Where the lowlands have won space from the higher ground, as in Poggibonsi and Colle Bassa, industrial development has succeeded in weaving a compact fabric of small and medium-sized firms.

The town where every stone has remained the same throughout the centuries, where one breathes an atmosphere not to be found elsewhere, because its people have kept the traditions of their forefathers, such as those connected with the Festa del Palio, renewing them year by year with unswerving effort and enthusiasm.

The 17 City-States of Siena
With a population of less than 60,000, Siena contains 17 city-states, or contrada.
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Each contrada has its own flag, its own seat of government, its own constitution, its own church, fountain, hymn, motto, insignia, patron saint, and of course geographical boundaries -- which were established in 1729, when the number of contrade was also fixed by decree at 17.

It is largely thanks to the contrada, in fact, that there is virtually no crime in Siena, nor are there beggars wandering the streets. Social welfare issues are handled in large part by each contrada. At the heart of the system, lies pride in identity.

The city of Siena was founded on three hills, thus perhaps accounting for the division of the city into terzi, or thirds, radiating out from the Campo. Each terzi is then broken down into contrade, which are really the heart and soul of the city.  In the north is the Terzo di Camollia, in the southeast is the Terzo di San Martino and in the southwest is the Terzo di Citta.

Many tourists regard Siena as being worth a day trip from Florence or a half-day stopover on a tour of rural Tuscany. That's a mistake. You should allow at least two days to visit Siena's major churches and museums, plus another day simply to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this historic but lively university town.

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Museums and Churches

The magnificently medieval walled city of Siena is a Renaissance  treasure, its narrow streets lead to the quaint and colorful Piazza del Campo and its elaborate fountain, the Fonte Gaia. The Town Hall (Palazzo Publico), with its landmark 289-foot bell tower (Torre di Mangia), which you can climb for a stupendous view of the entire town and the peaceful countryside beyond. 

Siena Italy - Duomo and cathedral square Siena's Duomo and cathedral square.

Duomo - Piazza del Duomo -  Begun about 1150. The marble pavement inside was designed in 1517-1547 by Beccafumi  On the left altar are early works by Michelangelo. In the left transept is the bronze St. John the Baptist by Donatello. Nicola Pisano's pulpit (1265) was done after his famous pulpit in Pisa. The pillars are decorated by angels by Beccafumi. In the Cappella Chigi on the right are Bernini's late works Mary Magdalen and St. Jerome.

Duccio's Stained Glass masterpiece has been restored, and is now on exhibit in Siena's Santa Maria della Scala.

Pinacoteca Nazionale
Situated in the Palazzo Buonsignori, an elegant building of the Sienese late-gothic style. Founded in 1700 when the Abbot Giuseppe Ciaccheri gathered together a collection of paintings. Gradually, the collection was added to by private and public donations. The gallery has 38 rooms and boasts roughly 700 paintings, exhibited in chronological or stylistic order featuring Sienese masters; Duccio di Buoninsegna, Simone Martini and Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti.

Museo dell Opera
Access to the "facciatone" is gained from the museum's premises, and offers a breathtaking view of the whole city. The collection includes works of art from other churches in the diocese of Siena, removed from their original settings over the centuries. Paintings, sculptures, sacred ornaments and vestments, jewelry, and illuminated manuscripts offer an exhaustive insight into the city's artistic culture 

Ground floor: original carvings from the cathedral facade, including life-sized figures by Giovanni Pisano (1284-90) in the original workshop of the Cathedral. 

1st floor: Sala di Duccio - Duccio's Maestà (1308-11), and on the left wall, predella scenes of the Passion, originally on the reverse side of the painting; right wall, a triptych by Pietro Lorenzetti and a Virgin and Child by Duccio. Follow signs upstairs in the back to the Panorama for a sensational view.

Libreria Piccolomini
Commissioned in 1492 by Cardinal Francesco Piccolomini Todeschini. the library was intended to house the extensive collection of books belonging to his uncle Pope Pius II and to honor the memory.  The walls and the ceiling are entirely covered with frescoes whose colors are wonderfully preserved wth Pinturicchio frescoes, (1502) illustrating the glorious events of the life of Enea Silvio Piccolomini, Pope Pius II. 

Battistero di San Giovanni
The Baptistery, called also Pieve di San Giovanni,was built between 1316 and 1325 occupies a large space beneath the last two bays of the extended choir of the Cathedral. The marble façade was made between 1317 and 1382. In the center, Jacopo della Quercia's marble font (1411-30), with bronze reliefs and sculptures by Ghiberti: the Baptism of Christ (facing the entrance) (1424-1427); Donatello's Feast of Herod, Faith and Hope; and della Quercia's Annunciation to Zaccharias.

Oratorio di San Bernardino
This building is divided into two floors: the lower oratory, painted by the most famous sienese artists in the XV sec., and the upper oratory, with a lacunar ceiling and walls entirely painted with the History of the Virgin by Pacchia, Sodoma, Domenico Beccafumi in the XIV sec. Next to the oratory, there is The Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra, in which are conserved frescoes by Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and tables from XIV to XVI

Museo Civico
The Museo Civico is situated in the Palazzo Pubblico and has several rooms. Among the most important of these is the Sala del Mappamondo, which hosts Simone Martini's Maestà, the Sala della Pace and the Sala dei Nove, so called because it was the seat of the "governo dei nove" (the government of nine), decorated by a series of frescoes by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Other important rooms include the Sala della Balia, the Sala dei Palestri and an exquisite chapel decorated with frescoes by Taddeo di Bartolo.

Santa Maria Della Scala

Built in the 12th century as a hospital, now the numerous rooms are used as a museum. The most famous room is the Sala del Pellegrinaio, with its 15th century frescoes depicting the history and life of Santa Maria della Scala painted by Domenico Bartolo, with the collaboration of other painters, including Vecchietta. Among the smaller rooms it is worth noting the Sagrestia Vecchia, the Cappella delle Reliquie with the lunette by Domenico Beccafumi, the Cappella della Madonna and the Chiesa della Annunziata. The Marcacci, Novaro and Stretta rooms host the Archeological Museum of Siena, which exhibits articles found mainly in the Siena and Chiusi areas

Chiesa di Sant'Agostino
The church of S. Agostino was erected beginning in the second half of the thirteenth century, but work continued over the centuries until the end of the fifteenth century. The interior was renovated in the eighteenth century by Vanvitelli as a result of the disastrous fire of *1747. The sixteenth and seventeenth century altars in the nave and transept hold canvases by Sienese artists of the early seventeenth century, as well as a "Crucifixion" by Perugino. Particularly important are the Bichi chapel with the only known frescoes by Francesco di Giorgio and the Piccolonlini chapel with a fresco of the "Maestà" by Ambrogio Lorenzetti.

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Siena Monuments

The Palazzo Pubblico & Piazza del Campo  
This is where everything and everyone comes together, tourists, students, working men and women, kids, older folks, anybody and everybody.

The Palazzo Pubblico of Siena, situated in Piazza del Campo, was built between 1250 and 1310 and although another story was added in 1680, the style of the building remained unchanged. In the lower part of the building, two Sienese stone arches can be seen, the two upper stories are decorated with a series of three-paned windows. The raised section at the center of the building displays a copper disc flanked by two-paned windows with the coat of arms of St. Bernardino. Today, the Palazzo Pubblico is home to the Museo Civico of Siena.

Torre del Mangia - Piazza del Campo 

Siena: Piazza del Campo, famous all over the world and considered the quintessential Sienese piazza
This slim and elegant structure (roughly 100m tall) was built by the brothers Minuccio di Rinaldo and Francesco Naldi from Arezzo between 1338 and 1348. The two coats of arms of the town were designed by Lippo Memmi. The bell, cast in 1665, is commonly known as the "campanone". The name of the tower comes from Giovanni di Duccio, also known as "Mangiaguadagni", who was one of the first people to hold the position of bell ringer.

Fonte Gaia - The Fountain of Joy
Fonte Gaia was built opposite the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena by Jacopo della Quercia between 1409 and 1419. The marble fountain anticipates some of the fundamental aspects of Renaissance art. In the center is the image of the Madonna, surrounded by the Virtues and the depictions of the Creation of Adam and Adam and Eve's expulsion from the Garden of Eden. In 1858, the original sculptures were moved to the Loggia of the Palazzo Pubblico of Siena and were subsequently replaced by copies created by Tito Sarrocchi.

Palazzo Chigi Saracini - Via di Città 
This building was completed in 1300 and is built of stone and brick. Two series of three-paned windows and a short stone tower can be admired on its facade. It has been the quarters of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana of Siena since 1932.

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Siena Countryside

Tuscan landscape panoramic view famous road verdant hills prairie morning mist  grapes and leaves Monteriggioni Sant'Antimo abbey sunset  

The Chianti
This hilly area stretches from Siena right to the edge of the province of Florence and is mainly cultivated with vineyards. There are a large number of producers of Chianti Classico in the area. Castles and farms are dotted around the hills; the castle of Brolio is probably the most popular reference point for any trip in the area. Built in the 14th century, it stands on a hill that offers an outstanding view. The historical towns of this area include Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti and Castelnuovo Berardenga, which is near Monteaperti, the site of the epic battle between Siena and Florence.

Elsa Valley
Thriving industry and architectural monuments with valuable works of art stand side by side in this area of contrasts. Poggibonsi is in the heart of the Val d’Elsa and is the home to many industries, especially the furnishings industry. Colle di val d’Elsa is famous for its crystal but is also an important tourist destination. The old part of the town is made up of narrow alleys, steps, and hills. It is possible to visit the Palazzo Vescovile, the museum of sacred art, and the characteristic Via delle Volte. Without a doubt, the most important town of the Val d’Elsa is San Gimignano, a town of many towers, built at one of the most important points of the Via Francigena. The town has preserved its 14th century characteristics and boasts beautiful towers, historical palaces and important squares, such as the Piazza della Cisterna.

SIENA and its surrounding area

In the nearby Tuscan countryside, stop by the dramatic city of San Gimignano, a classic 12th-century town perched high on a hilltop and known for its ruins of medieval towers.

An important agricultural center on the gentler side of the Sienese Clay Hills flourished in ancient times thanks to its particular geographical situation: at the confluence of the Arbia and Ombrone rivers on one hand, and along the route of the all-important mediaeval Via Francigena on the other. This favourable position brought rich trade, but also raids: Emperor Henry VII died there among others in 1313 after having conquered the town.

Still enclosed in the rectangular form imposed by the walls built by the Sienese in 1371, the town has preserved the monumental northern gate opening towards the capital of the province. Buonconvento was the seat of a podesta from 1270 onwards and still boasts a fine Town Hall on whose facade one can distinguish the coats-of-arms of 25 podestas of olden days.

The main tourist attraction is the important Sacred Art Museum, which houses works from the local churches: amongst these are paintings by Sano di Pietro and Matteo di Giovanni, as well as interesting wooden and marble sculptures.

Amongst the other sights worth seeing are an uncommon number of fine Liberty-style noble houses. Lastly, there are many castles scattered over the surrounding land, such as the Fortress of Bibbiano Guiglieschi, over a thousand years old, the tower of Bibbiano and the great architectural complex of Castelnuovo

Murlo   Once a fief of the Sienese bishops in the 13th century, the Commune of Murlo is one of the most singular and charming spots in the Province of Siena. In fact, its seat is not in the village of Murlo itself, but in nearby Vescovado, and it is immersed in dense woods parted by the Crevole river, in an area proved to have been an important Etruscan settlement.

The actual fortified village of Murlo, consisting of the bishop's palace and its courtyard, has been restored and is now centered on the Antiquarium, where the archaeological finds from the significant site of Poggio Civitate are gathered. Amongst the many pieces, the most interesting are the almost complete roof and pediment of a building dating back to the 5th century B.C..

Asciano  If fortune could be measured by the number of postcards and advertisements using a certain spot as a background, the area of clay hills around Asciano would certainly take pride of place.

There is no photographer, film-amateur or wandering artist who has not been intrigued by the furrows and Jura limestone. The splendor of the "Crete" their color changing from violet to gold according to the seasons, these rolling hills are enlivened here by the decorous elegance of the farmhouses perched on their bare ridges and the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, the true spiritual center of this Sienese.

Amongst the most important monuments in the town is the 14th century church of San Lorenzo, which was partly rebuilt after the Second World War and possesses a fine wooden crucifix from the same century; the Palazzo Pretorio (Town Hall), dotted with coats-of-arms and surmounted by a crenellated tower, still showing remains of the original Gothic structure; and the Collegiate Church, rebuilt in the last century in Neo-Classical and Baroque, whose bell-tower was once the castle tower at Marturi: a 14th century font stands in the interior and there is a Resurrection attributed to Vincenzo Tamagni (1492-1530).

The town's surroundings are Gothic archways of the 13th century Fonte delle Fate (Fairy Well), the splendid church of San Lucchese, donated to Saint Francis in 1213 and full of works of art, the 11th century Castello della Magione, granted to the Templars in the following century and now a cultural, art and spiritual center, and Staggia, the fortified village where one can visit the fine parish church of Santa Maria Assunta, containing a Communion of Saint Mary Magdalene attributed to Il Pollaiolo (1431-1498).

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Sightseeing header

The Great Wines of Tuscany
Enoteca Italiana

Address: Fortezza Medicea – 53100 Siena, Italy
Tel. + 39-0577-28.84.97 – Fax + 39-0577-27.07.17
This is a "wine library", an archive of more than 1,000 Tuscan vintages. You can sample and buy wines, browse through wine publications, and admire the vaulted cellars, corridors, and armories of Siena's 15th Century Medici fortress.

Guided Tours
Maybe you're looking maximize your time, get off the beaten path and explore some of the less appreciated treasures of Siena and its countryside. Then you might want to contact Roberto Bechi, a local who offers both full-service customized tours and single day-trip tours which can be joined by those traveling independently - click here for a list of tours.  

Check out Roberto's website:  
Telephone:  (011) 39-0577-704789 

In the US
Tours by Roberto, Inc.
c/o Jason Tate/Miller & Jenkins
1910 Erickson Avenue
Harrisonburg, VA 22801
In Italy
Tours By Roberto, Inc.
c/o Patricia Bechi
Via Del Forno Vecchio 14
Serre di Rapolano, (SI) 53040
Siena, Walking Tour 
Three itineraries to bring you to the most famous sights of Siena in the network of narrow streets and alleys around the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo. Click the link to view the comlplete tour

The first itinerary
Sarts from the church of S. Francesco situated in the north part of the city, to finish at Branda' spring, one of the most famous spring in Siena and also explores;
basilica of Provenzano.
Palazzo Tolomei, 
Salimbeni' square s
Palazzo Salimbeni,
Palazzo Spannocchi 
Palazzo Tantucci del Riccio 
House of Santa Caterina 
Santa Domenico's basilica. 
Santa Caterina's chapel
Fonte Branda
Starts from S. Agostino's church to reach one of the most extraordinary building programs in late medieval times, the Duomo
also explores;
Palazzo Buonsignori
Palazzo Chigi-Saracini
Chigiana Music Academy
Battistero or Pieve di San Giovanni
the Duomo
The Opera del Duomo museum
Starts from the Loggia to the church of Santa Maria dei Servi 
and also explores;
the Campo
palazzo pubblico, la Capella di Piazza and torre del Mangia
palazzo pubblico
tower of the Mangia
salla del Mappamondo
Sala della Pace
Sala Balia
Palazzo Sansedoni
fonte Gaia
Palazzo Piccolomini
logge del Papa,

Siena Tourist Information
Look for rentals, a handful of shop listings, horseback rides, and other tourist services in Siena and Tuscany.

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Unique and Different

Castles of Siena

Province of Siena map Click on the map to enlarge it,  castles are marked with squares, click on a square to see the castle and its history, here is an example;

Quattro Torri Castle

The castle of the 'Four Towers' rises to the periphery of Siena, is reachable following the indications for the locality of S.Regina.

The most important castle of medieval origin still today practically intact in the immediate outskirts of Siena is without doubt known by the name of 'Quattro Torri' (Four Towers). It is located a few hundred meters away from the church of S.Regina and until the 1500 carried this name. Its origin seems to go back to the beginning of the 1300s. In 1376 it became property of the family Bichi who, towards the second half of the successive century restored the castle. Thanks to its strategic position the 'Quattro Torri' played a primary role at the times of the 'War of Siena' in the middle of 16th century.

The castle is constituted by an imposing mass of square shapes built in red bricks endowed with four angle towers with various dimensions but of the same height. The base of the walls is lightly bastionated, under the battlement we can still admire the machicolation apparatus of classic Sienese style. The gate of access, with its Gothic arch was protected by breteche. The inner courtyard, not of great dimensions, is endowed on two sides by a porticate from which begins the stairway that gives access to the upper level. Transformed into a villa, today it is a private residence visible only from outside.

Spas of Siena

Siena, land of health-giving waters. The Sienese thermal water resources seem to have been strewn by a benevolent hand, scattered evenly around as they are to Form a harmonious whole with the wealth of history, art and nature present there.
On the extreme eastern spur of the Province the fluids from the nearby clay hills blend with the echoes of the nearby Chiana Valley in the sulphur waters of Rapolano, amidst glowing white travertine stone.
To the south the splendour of the Orcia Valley enhances the jets spurting from the springs of Bagno Vignoni, justly famed spa and monument along the intersection where, in the vicinity of San Quirico, the routes of the old Via Francigena mingle with the swinging bends of the Cassia.

At the convergence of the Farma and Merse valleys, paradises for flora and fauna, where rare species such as otters and a singular species of newt (Triturus Alpestris) hide, right where the lands of Siena descend into the Maremma, the 15th-century walls of the ancient Petriolo Spa rise from the hollowed road winding up through the woods, while, to the west, now near the crags of Volterra and already within sight of the Cecina Valley, amidst the silent green forest the metalliferous hills conceal the waters of the Galleraie, a small jewel of a spa in the land of the boric acid fumaroles.

A.P.T. phone: +39 578 31292 / 63538

Pro-Loco Phone: +39 578 58141

Pro-Loco Phone: +39 578 265312

A.P.T. phone: +39 577 42209 / 280606

A.P.T. phone: +39 577 42209 / 280606

A.P.T. phone: +39 577 42209 / 280606

A.P.T. phone: +39 577 42209 / 280606



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Good buys: Tuscany is famous for its gold, earthenware, leather and wicker products

Siena Italy - tourism information - store on main shopping street  A store on Siena's main shopping street.

There are many wonderful shops and products in Siena -- these happen to be several we have experienced ourselves.

Ceramics. There are quite a number of places to buy Tuscan ceramic products. One place to check out is Antica Siena, 28 Piazza del Campo, check out their web site.

Hand woven clothing. Tessuta a mano - A cool little shop which specializes in clothes woven right in the store, like the name says, "by hand". Ph 0577.28.22.00

Prints. Check out the tiny but tasteful Stampe-Cornici, at 112 Via di Citta, or il Rastro, at 6 off Piazetta Luigi Bonelli.

Ricciarelli. Siena produces its own unique lemon-almond cookie called ricciarelli.

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Il Palio

Spain has 'the Running of the Bulls', Siena, Italy has Palio

Siena Italy - Piazza del Campo - site of Palio horse races Piazza del Campo, site of the world-famous Palio horse races.

Twice and sometimes three times during the summer, the contrade or neighborhoods of Siena compete in a horse race around the Piazza del Campo town square in honor of the Virgin Mary. The races, which can be dangerous to both the horses and riders, take place in an atmosphere of medieval pageantry. The preparations take several days and you should plan to see them all. 

Onda's FlagEvery contrada running will want to win, and they will offer each other money in exchange for assistance during the race - money that they are only expected to pay if they win. Not sporting but in the Palio victory is the only goal. So, the Capitani of the contrade meet to make deals, well aware that their rivals will be doing their best to keep them from winning. While the Capitani are bargaining, 6 trials, called Prove, are held to accustom the horse to the jockey, the track, and the start, which is unique: 9 horses enter between the ropes, and the tenth makes a running start. Drago's Jockey during the paradeThese trials are held at 8:00 AM and 6:30 PM

The Prova Generale, the evening before the Palio, is followed by banquets organized in the streets and squares of the individual contrade. They're fun, with much laughter and song, and you will be quite welcome - purchase tickets directly from the contrada you have joined.

The afternoon of the Palio the Contradas dress in its colors, the horse is blessed in the contrada's chapel, and the comparsa goes to pay homage to Monte dei Paschi (Siena's bank), the Nobles, the Bishop, and the Hospital. There's lots of flag twirling - the best place to watch is from the steps of the Duomo.

Aquila's Jockey saluting.The action then shifts to the Piazza del Campo: great bell of the Torre del Mangia begins to toll, and the Corteo Storico begins, retracing Siena's centuries of struggle against Florence, from the glorious victory against a vastly superior Florentine force at Monteaperti in 1260 to the ghastly day when Siena fell to her rival in 1560. Everything comes to a head when a copy of the Florentine war wagon captured at the battle of Monteaperti enters the Campo with the Palio. Once the track is cleared, the jockeys emerge from the town hall, taking their whips from the officials at the door. The horses are skittish, the jockeys bend all the rules, and all of a sudden they're off - three times around, a mere 90 seconds that seem like years. Then a jockey's raising his whip high in celebration, and the victorious contrada is swarming into the track to claim its Palio. Join them, and take the Palio home. The party will last till dawn.

Getting there: Siena is about 45 minutes from Florence, and is also easily accessible by rail. If thisBringing the palio home. is your first Palio, you should treat yourself to a seat in a bleacher, though it will be expensive - 150-300,000 Lire, depending on location. The stores and bars lining the Piazza del Campo handle the balconies and bleachers in front of their establishments; to purchase tickets you must contact them directly, six to nine months in advance. The Azienda Autonoma del Turismo (Piazza del Campo 56, 53100 Siena, Italy; Tel (I-577) 280551; Fax (I-577) 270676; Telex (I-577) 573256) has their addresses, as well as addresses of hotels. You can also watch the Palio from the Campo, which is free (but crowded).

Definitions of Palio Terminology
Palio - The race takes its name "Palio" from the italian word which means "banner". This banner, or Palio, is the prize given to the winning Contrada of the race. The Palio banner is also affectionately referred to by the Senese as the "Drappellone", the big drape, or the "Cencio", the rag.
Contrade: the 17 "neighborhoods" of Siena, 10 of which compete in each race.]
Captain: the elected leader of each Contrada]
The nerbo - A whip which is given to each jockey as he exits from the Entrone, made of oxhide, with which he may
beat and block other jockeys.
The partiti - Secret [agreements] between Contrade.
The entrance to the ropes - The order is determined by a method which guarantees secrecy and honesty; a
policeman delivers a sealed envelope to the mossiere when the horses are in the proximity of the verrocchio.
The mossiere is the only judge (whose decision is without appeal) who determines when the race may actually begin, and if the start is valid.
The rincorsa - The last Contrada to enter between the ropes which actually determines the moment that the race will start.
 San Martino - A very swiftly descending[and sharp]curve; at its outer edges there are mattresses for protection to help limit injuries in the event of possible falls.
Casato - The other curve, an ascending one, which is also very difficult.
The finish - A short distance after the start is a small black and white metal flag called the bandierino which marks the finish line, in front of the Judges' Stand; the horse may also win "scosso", that is, without a jockey.

Palio Schedule

7:45 AM - The jockey's Mass, celebrated by the Archbishop of Siena in the Chapel of the Piazza.
9:00 AM - The 6th heat ("provaccia").
10:00 AM - The signing of the jockeys in the Palazzo.
2:30 PM (july) / 2:00 (august) - The vesting of the comparsa in each of the seventeen Contrade.
3:30 PM (july) / 3:00 (august) - The Blessing of the Horse (in the ten Contrade taking part in the race) and subsequent departure of the comparse to pay homage to certain important institutions of Siena and thence to the Palazzo del Governo in the Piazza del Duomo.
4:30 PM  (july) / 4:00 (august) - Departure of the Corteo Storico from the Palazzo del Governo to the Via del Casato di Sotto for entry into the Piazza.
5:20 PM  (july) / 4:50 (august) - Entry of the Corteo Storico into the Piazza del Campo (this can, at times, be preceded by a display from a squad of Carabinieri on horseback).
7:30 PM  (july) / 7:00 (august) - The horses exit from the Entrone for the race upon the firing of the mortaretto. After the race, the winning contrada marches exultantly to the Basilica of Santa Maria in Provenzano (or, in August, to the Cathedral) and subsequently the festivities continue throughout the night in the neighborhood andthrough the strees of the main part of the city.

Siena's Palio Horse Race
Kristin Jarratt wrote her first-person account of "how I became a caterpillar" for In Italy Online.

75 Seconds to the Victory
This description of the race includes a glossary of Palio terms and a daily schedule.


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Antica Osteria da Divo. (above) 
29 Via Franciosa, ph. 0577-284-381, open daily. 
Just around the corner from the Duomo, The cuisine is local and the food is outstanding and the service is superb. The seating underground in a grotto-like atmosphere, both charming and intimate.

Osteria Il Tamburino
11 Via Stalloreggi, ph. 0577-280-306, closed Sun. 
 Very simple but good Tuscan home cooking. Another small, family-run operation. Good prices too.

Al Marsili. 
3 Via del Castoro, ph. 0577-47-154, all credit cards, open Tues-Sun. 
The food is very good, especially the Lemon Risotto. Semi-formal to casual atmosphere

Shang Hai
on via della Galuzza
The food was superb, the ambience interesting. Good prices too!.

Ristorante Il Biondo
Via del Rustichetto, ph. 0577-280739
Around the corner from Piazza Matteotti

Ristorante Nello La Taverna 
28 Via del Porrione, ph. 0577-289043. 
Frommer's 1998 claims they take credit cards but trust us, no credit cards! Nevertheless, this is one of our favorite eateries; a unique menu with a Senesi twist.

Osteria Le Logge
33 Via del Porrione, ph. 0577-48013. 
Another favorite spot, just across from Nello Taverna, with indoor and outdoor seating, family style so you could be eating dinner with just about anybody.

Osteria da Cice 
32 Via San Pietro. 
Small, family run osteria, lots of atmosphere with great food and wine.

Trattoria Papei
6 Piazza del Mercato, ph. 0577-280-894. 
Another great family run place, just behind the Torre di Mangia and Palazzo Pubblico. Outside tables, great prices and good food!

Ristorante Il Campo
A great spot for watching people during the day or night. Lunch is OK, but supper can be quite tasty and the service is usually interesting.

Ristorante Al Mangia
No. 43 on the Campo, ph. 0577-281-121, all credit cards. 
Very good food, and superb location for watching people, particularly for the evening strollers.

Geleteria Artigiana -
33 Via di Citta. 
Another favorite spot, absolutely delicious gelati, located just off the Campo.

Caffe Novo - 13 Via del Camporegio. One of our favorite haunts. A great spot for lunch and watching people, with a fantastic view of the Duomo, it is just around the corner from San Domenico and across from St. Catherine's house.

15 Via Garibaldi, ph. 0577-282-295, closed Sat. 
Ossobuco and gnocchi are reported to be specialties here.  

Osteria la Chiaachera
4 Costa di San Antonio, ph. 0577-280-631, open daily. 
Located below Pension Bernini. Described as a "wonderfully medieval, tasty and affordable hole-in-the-brick-wall." Highly recommended 

Compagnia di San Martino
25-27 Via del Porrione, ph. 0577-49-306. Located right next to the Osteria Le Logge 

Osteria di Ficomezzo
71 Via dei Termini, ph. 0577-222-384. Just north of the Campo, closed Sun. 

Ristorante Gallo Nero
65 Via del Porrione. 
Good but uneven food

Da Guido
7 Vicolo Pier Pettinaio, ph. 0577-280-042, all credit cards, open Thurs-Tues. 
(Cadogan claims open daily.) Cadogan also claims the grilled dishes are very good here.

La Torre
7-9 Via Salicotto, ph. 0577-287-548. Closed Thurs. 
According to Cadogan, "this good little restaurant is always jam-packed" and serves up "home cooking at reasonable prices." 

Tullio ai Tre Cristi
Vicolo Provenzano, ph. 0577-280-608, closed Mon. 
Cadogan claims this to be "the most authentic of Sienese restaurants."

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V i l l a s  N e a r  S i e n a

San Donato is an exquisite gem set in rolling Chianti vineyards with views that stretch 360 degrees past a nearby 13th century hill town to Siena and into infinity.

Casina di Villa Arceno Casina Arceno      

La Casina di Villa Arceno is a cosy rustic cottage set in rolling Chianti vineyards with wonderful open views of the surrounding

H i s t o r i c   H o m e s

If you want to see the list below as a comparative table click here


Palazzo MarzochiPalazzo Marzochi

Palazzo Marzochi is an elegant 17th century villa built on the remains of the ancient castle of Monterchi. From the windows are green views of the surrounding woods and peeks through to the never-ending panorama of the countryside beyond.

Villa Belvedere Campoli, built in 1504 stands at the center of a large estate in the heart of Chianti Classico. Surrounded by its own live trees, vineyards and forest, Villa Belvedere is an elegant and nobile country home.

Il CasseroIl Cassero

The stone tower and large Italian style garden will set the stage for your Italian holiday. Residence Il Cassero, is part of a medieval structure of the 13 th century, located in the heart

I n  o r  N e a r  F l o r e n c e

 If you want to see the list below as a comparative table click here


Borgo Tegalaio is like fabulous modern gem, nestling amongst the ancient terracotta rooftops of down town central Florence. Five minutes by foot from the Ponte Vechio and the Pitti Palace. Borgo Tegalaio is located in a very romantic and ancient part of Florence known for its artesian workshops and antique market.

Il Pignotto at AntellaPignotto        

Villa Pignotto at Antella is an ancient and stately villa set in very beautiful traditional topiary garden about 15 minutes from central Florence. Part of the Villa has been transformed into a small but complete apartment, perfect for family groups.

Villa Belvedere Campoli, built in 1504 stands at the center of a large estate in the heart of Chianti Classico. Surrounded by its own live trees, vineyards and forest, Villa Belvedere is an elegant and nobile country home perfect for a peaceful and enjoyable retreat.

Il Cantuccio Il Cantuccio    

Il Cantuccio is large rambling farmhouse, perfectly suited for relaxed family holidays in touch with the miracle of the Tuscan countryside but at the same time with in 20 minutes of central Florence.

Podere Torricella
        Podere Toricella

Podere Torricella is a small hamlet located on a hill among olive groves and vineyards only 18 km from the center of Florence. It represents an ideal base to easily reach the most important artistic cities of Tuscany; Pisa, Siena, Lucca, S.Gimignano, Volterra, Vinci .

Patrizia Nuti's home is a very large and old, traditional country villa located right in the heart of Chianti. It was built as the summer residence of a renowned noble Florentine family at the turn of last century.

F a r m  S t a y s


Cretaiole is an ancient farmhouse from the 1200's, which has been completely restored to provide modern convenience and comfort whilst still retaining the original architectural integrity and rustic ambiance..

Those who love the natural, artistic and cultural wonders of our country have found what they came for; the Relais Club le Anfore is a comfortable rural tourist center right in the heart of Tuscany, in Sarteano renowned for its hot water springs .


L'Abbazia di Spineto is a large family run estate of over 800 hectares. With in the Estate are nine medieval farm houses all discerningly restored to provide high end luxury villas that will make your Tuscan holiday a dream of cutting edge modern design perfectly in harmony with traditional Tuscan architecture.

Certosa di Maggiano
Via Certosa 82
tel. 0577-288180, fax 0577-288189
from Lit. 460.000 double room
Exclusive and sophisticated retreat in an ex monastery surrounded by an immense park. Only 17 rooms.

Villa Scacciapensieri
Via di Scacciapensieri 10
tel.0577-41441, fax 0577-270854
from Lit.150.000
Turn of the century villa with beautiful grounds. The decor is modern and quite ordinary, but the rooms are airy and spacious.

Palazzo Ravizza
Pian dei Mantellini 34
tel. 0577-280462, fax 0577-271370
from Lit.120.000
Small charming hotel, the taste is decadent with style. The rooms have a breathtaking view of the Tuscan countryside.

Relais Borgo San Felice
Castelnuovo Berardenga, 20 km from Siena, near San Felice
tel. 0577-359260, fax 0577-359089
from Lit.350.000
Sophisticated and exclusive, this hotel is actually a little burg, renovated and decorated with good style and period furniture; a large freeform pool and a very good restaurant , both with view of the hills, make the stay even more enjoyable.

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Other Information

Internet access
Thanks to its large student population, Siena has many "Internet points" (cybercafés without the caffè). The one I used during my stay was the Via di Città branch of:

Internet Train: Siena
The best deal, if you're an Internet junkie, is a card good for at least two hours of access. I got an hour's bonus with my two-hour card, and I could use the card at other Internet Train locations in 27 Italian cities.

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Look up listings of hotels, farmhouses, vacation rentals, restaurants, and tour services in the Siena region.

Welcome to Italy: Siena
Many of this site's listings of museums, hotels, etc. are for nearby towns and villages rather than for the city itself.



Gale Information Technology,  Washington, DC