Visiting Siena in One Day
Based on article by Valentina Dainelli from www.discovertuscany.com (link)
Siena is certainly one of the top cities in Tuscany. Famous because of its exciting Palio that takes place twice a year, Siena has many special attractions to visit. These are our suggestions if you just have a day to spend in Siena visiting the most famous and beautiful sights.
The first stop is Piazza del Campo, where the Palio di Siena takes place, and which is characterized by its peculiar shell-shape and the important buildings facing the square. Among these the Palazzo Comunale, built with red bricks and decorated with white marble, and which hosts the beautiful Civic Museum. Inside the museum are many masterpieces by Sienese artists such as the stunning Maestà (The Virgin Mary Enthroned) by Simone Martini and the frescoes of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Next to the Palazzo Comunale the Torre del Mangia rises up. The bell tower is among the highest and oldest towers in Italy from which you can admire a wonderful 360° view of Siena and the surrounding Tuscan countryside. Once back on the ground, take a closer look at the marble Fountain of Joy (Fonte Gaia) by Jacopo della Quercia that stands on one side of the Piazza del Campo.
The city's outline is marked by the profile of the splendid Duomo of Siena, the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. The cathedral is a perfect example of Romanesque-Gothic style. Inside, the spectacular floor in hard stone mosaics depicting 56 different scenes deserves to be admired. Then there are many beautiful artworks, such as the octagonal marble pulpit by Nicola Pisano. From the left nave you can enter into the Piccolomini Library, frescoed by Pinturicchio. Next to the Duomo stands the large Baptistery with a large hexagonal baptismal font made by famous artists such as Donatello.
Then there is the Church of San Domenico, characterized by the massive architecture and its Holy Head, a venerated relic of Saint Catherine from Siena, and the Museum Complex of Santa Maria della Scala that melts both past and present history of Siena in the display great art works of Sienese artists.
The two Siena museums that definitely deserve a visit are the Opera del Duomo Museum, displaying the unique Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna and the National Art Gallery, showing works by Simone Martini, Duccio di Buoninsegna and other important Sienese artists.
Walking around Siena is particularly pleasant. Each borough is a Contrada (district) of the Palio, and each symbol is proudly displayed on front doors and shop windows. The passion for the Palio can be breathed on the air all year round. If you have time, visit a Contrada and its district church to experience its essence.