Siena, Italy - Favorite Things to Do in Siena
Siena: Earthy and rich in memoirs of the past
Not many cities of the world have a color named after them. Siena, Italy, is an exception. The rich, earthy color, Burnt Siena gets its name directly from this ancient Italian city, founded by the Emperor Augustus. Aside from the fact that Burnt Siena is one of the most prominent colors in this ancient city, it is in many other ways an apt color for it as well. Earthy and rich in history, Siena, a distinguished university town, is also cosmopolitan, if not contemporary in appearance.
The landmarks of Siena
The heart of Siena is the Piazza del Campo, the huge plaza around which the rest of the city is built. If you are lucky enough to be in Siena in August, then take in the yearly bareback horse race - the Palio. Since 1659, the race has been held in the Piazza del Campo.
Every year, each of the 17 districts of Siena sends a representative horse and jockey to the race. Tens of thousands attend the race, which after much medieval pageantry, is over in less than 2 minutes. The first time they staged the Palio was in 1482, ten years before Columbus sailed to America.
While the Piazza del Campo will be your point of reference wherever you go in Siena, another unmistakable landmark within the confines of the city is the Basilica di Don Domenico.
This huge, imposing looking basilica was built by the Dominicans in 1125 AD. Its main claim to fame is the fact that it contains the head and finger of St. Catherine, whose nearby home has since become her principle shrine in Siena.
If the fortress-like Basilica di Don Domenico is not to your liking, maybe the Duomo di Siena will be.
Built in the Gothic style between the 12th and 13th centuries, many say it is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in all of Italy - and that's saying something. Inside, there are sculptures by Michelangelo, Bernini and other great artists.
Siena's history and religion
History and religion are only a part of Siena's attraction. It is also full of more contemporary cultural attractions, not the least of which are many great restaurants that serve great food and wine. Finding one is simply a matter of going to the Piazza del Campo in the evening and strolling around. You might also want to stroll to the romantic Fonte Branda, a fountain that dates back to 1080 AD before or after dinner. When you have finished what will definitely be a memorable meal, take to the streets again and listen for the live music coming from one of the many clubs in the area. Remember - it's a college town, so there are plenty of entertainment venues around!
Explore the Tuscan countryside
When you are in Siena, you are in Tuscany, one of the most beautiful places on earth. You can make Siena your base, but by all means get out and explore the Tuscan countryside. Combine sightseeing with wine tasting and every day will be a memorable day. If you can only go to one other Tuscan village, make it Montalcino. Brunello di Montalcino has a reputation for being one of the world's great red wines and the rolling hills in that sun-soaked region are stunning to behold.
Some say you have never really been to Italy until you have been to Siena. That may be an overstatement, but it is not an overstatement to say you have never seen the best of Italy until you have been to Siena.
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