Anyone who comes to Tuscany cannot ignore Siena. An ancient city with a legendary foundation (story of Senio and Ascanio, sons of Remo), it seems that even the city emblem of the black-white “Balzana” dates back to that history, perhaps in memory of the color of the horses with which the two brothers arrived . Always linked to this mythological foundation, there is the symbol of the she-wolf nursing the twins, still visible today in various representations of particular value scattered around the city. In addition to the inevitable connection with Rome, legend has it that Senio and Ascanio fleeing Rome where their brother, a parricide wanted to kill them, stole the statue that saved their father, the She-wolf, from the temple of Apollo. This would be the symbol of the new city they would found. It is difficult to recommend anything in particular about Siena, a unique city whose historic center has been included in the Unesco World Heritage list since 1995. Stories and legends envelop every alley, palace or family of this city that has managed to maintain prestige and beauty never scratched over the centuries and which still today show themselves in all its splendor among stately, civil and religious buildings scattered around the city. Its medieval identity has been perfectly preserved, so much so that it proudly shows itself to all its visitors as a rare gem, where time seems suspended even if life continues to swarm among its ever more numerous bowels. One of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Italy, over the years it has brought young people from all over the world to study and live in Siena, creating a cultural and artistic environment that brings the city closer to major international capitals.
It would take days to get to know this extraordinary city and certainly it would not be enough, so we limit ourselves to recommending some of the many points of interest present, offering you a brief peek on Siena, crossing one of its central artery. It starts from Piazza San Domenico, making a brief stop inside the Basilica of San Domenico, one of the most important churches in the city, built in the thirteenth century and still today the guardian of the head / relic of Saint Catherine of Siena. To continue along the main artery of the city, Via Banchi di Sopra which crosses Siena from north to south. Noble palaces of different architectural styles flank the road until reaching the highest point of the city, Piazza Duomo, where the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta rises majestically. The Cathedral of Siena is a masterpiece of Gothic-Roman art that contains within it works of sculpture and painting created by the most important masters of the European artistic panorama. Unique and extraordinary is the grandiose marble and graffiti floor, for the technique used and for the choice of the message, of the figurations. The monumental complex of the Duomo “Museo dell’Opera” is open to the public and includes, in addition to the entrance to the Cathedral, the Floor, the Piccolomini Library and the “Porta del Cielo”, also the “Duomo Nuovo” Museum, the Crypt and the Baptistery. Right in front of the Cathedral is the complex of Santa Maria della Scala, one of the oldest hospitals in Europe, where pilgrims and travelers who passed along this stretch of the Via Francigena have been welcomed for centuries. The complex houses a vast artistic heritage, enhanced by temporary exhibitions. Our route continues to Piazza del Campo, with its unmistakable shell shape and terracotta flooring, considered one of the most beautiful in the world and where the traditional and folkloric Palio delle Contrade takes place twice every year. Tourist area par excellence, Piazza del Campo is lined with bars, restaurants and shops that do not overshadow the beauty of the place, embellished by the Palazzo Pubblico and the majestic Torre del Mangia, 87 meters high. The Town Hall, built in brick and marble, now houses the Civic Museum where the most famous masterpieces of some Sienese artists are found, such as Simone Martini and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Walking around the square it is also possible to admire the Fonte Gaia, a large fountain which in its original features was decorated with the sculptures of Jacopo della Quercia.
The Palio in Siena is not a simple competition between horses, districts and stables, but it is love, passion, sentiment and life of the Sienese people. A tradition that is repeated every year and that has its origins in the history of the city, regulated since 1633 as the Palio dei Cavalli and never interrupted except during the two world wars of the last century. There are 17 districts in which the territory of the city is distributed, which in July (1st) and August (16th) compete in the square with horses mounted bareback by their jockeys. In addition to the atmosphere of celebration and solace that reigns in the days of the palio, the city of Siena is dressed in the colors of each district, making streets, squares and city arteries a colorful spectacle of rare beauty.