Siena offers something most of the other Italian tourist areas do not; a true Italian experience without the masses of the tourist crowds.
If you plan to visit Siena, here is a rough guide of places you should visit:
Visit the Roman ruins: The origins of Siena date back to the first century AD, and the city is full of historic places to visit. You will find Roman evidence in most of the building’s structures around the Piazza del Campo. Take a look at the structures themselves, the materials used within the buildings, and even the odd inscription can be found if you look hard enough. Keep a watch for the red dappled bricks, as this will indicate a Roman construction technique.
Have you ever wondered what the small square shaped holes on older buildings were used for? Well, they were used as places to hold scaffolding during building construction. These square holes can be found on plenty of the medieval buildings in the area.
Check out the city’s Contrada: The Contrada is a form of clan, and the clans within the 17 districts of Siena had their very own symbol, flags, colours and church. Some had fierce rivalry, with plenty of blood being spilt during these darker, historical ages.
The Contrada can still be seen in each of the districts, and as you walk through Siena, try and find each of them: wolf, wave, unicorn, tower, tortoise, snail, shell, ram, porcupine, panther, owl, goose, giraffe, forest, eagle, dragon and caterpillar.
Some districts hold small carnivals or festivals that show their colours and flags proudly.
To take these districts in try looking for one of the Venere hotels in Siena.
Take a walk along the wall: Siena is surrounded by an ancient wall, which historically kept its citizens safe from approaching danger. You can follow this wall almost unbroken around the city. You will have to stray a little off path, down alleys and through gardens, but this makes the experience more interesting. The alleys and gardens are ancient themselves and will always hold a lot of character.
If you do plan to take this walk along the wall, it will take about three hours, but you will get to see the real city and avoid most of the tourists in the process.
Galleries and museums: There is plenty of art galleries, museums and open buildings for you to explore in Siena, that you will soon be wishing for a sit down. The important thing is that you plan your day effectively, so you get to take everything in.
There are varying themes amongst the galleries and museums, with some focused on religion and some on more modern exhibitions. They certainly tell the story of Siena and can captivate even the youngest minds.
Visit the medieval font: Many years ago this font was used for bathing by the local residents. It acted as a meeting point for people throughout Siena, and was always a hub of activity. Even the local residents claim that the water runs so clean you could drink from it
I hope you have an amazing time!