Walk-about in Siena, Tuscany

Walk-about in Siena, Tuscany

Here’s another place I would have loved to spent longer, much longer ..  ambling through the narrow streets of Siena, the historic centre of which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscapes and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year in July and August.

Gateway to Siena .. (from the inside looking out)


Siena was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c 900 – 400 BC), thereafter a Roman town was founded at the site in the time of Emperor Augustus AD 70.  The Roman origin accounts for the town’s emblem : a she-wolf suckling infants Romulus and Remus

IMG_4275 (2)

Siena is a hilltop town.  Walking from the coach stop (at the entrance to the town) to the medieval square, Piazza del Campo and further up the hill to the highest point, the Duomo  .. was quite hectic!  A long, gradual climb!

IMG_7560IMG_7561 IMG_7562IMG_4276 (2)IMG_7564 (2)IMG_7565IMG_4277 (2) IMG_4278 (2)IMG_7566 IMG_7567IMG_7569Torre del Mangia built 1338-1348 ..

IMG_4280 (2)Piazza del Campo  …. prepared with barriers, seating and layers and layers of hardened soil around the square ready for the Palio which was to be held 4 days later ..

IMG_7570” The Palio is Tuscany’s most celebrated festival.  It is a bareback horse race first recorded in 1283.”  “The jockeys represent ten of Siena’s 17 contrade (districts); the horses are chosen by the drawing of lots and are blessed at the local contrada churches.  Preceded by days of colourful pageantry, costume processions and heavy betting, the races themselves last only 90 seconds each.”  “The winner is rewarded with a silk palio (banner).  Festivities for the winners can last for weeks.”

IMG_4284 IMG_4285 The fan-shaped piazza is on the site of the old Roman Forum and for much of Siena’s history was the principal marketplace.

The red brick paving was laid in 1327 and completed in 1349, its distinctive nine segments designed to reflect the authority of the Council of Nine and to symbolize the protective folds of the Madonna’s cloak.   The Piazza has been the focus of city life ever since, a setting for executions, bullfights, and the Palio

Wished I’d had my wide-angled lens for these photographs

IMG_7571Palazzo Pubblico (1297 – 1342)  ..

IMG_4289IMG_4291IMG_4290 (2)IMG_7576 IMG_7577 IMG_7578IMG_7579IMG_7572IMG_7573IMG_4293 IMG_4294 IMG_4295  Drainage at the lowest point of the piazza ..





IMG_7586IMG_7587 IMG_7588Colourful silk flags flutter in the breeze.  Wished we’d been there to witness the flag-throwing ceremony

IMG_7581IMG_7580IMG_7596 IMG_7597 IMG_7598IMG_7591Fonte Gaia .. a 19th century copy of the original fountain carved by Jacopo della Quercia in 1409-19.  Its reliefs depict the Virtues, Adam and Eve, and the Madonna and Child.   The fountain’s water is still supplied by a 500 year old aqueduct








We continue our walk-about in Siena .. next post

Trafalgar Tours : Best of Italy : June 2013

3 Replies to “Walk-about in Siena, Tuscany”

  1. Sienna was one of the cities on our tour. We loved it. Many of your pics are similar to mine. We had a wonderful lunch with a great wine in the piazza where the horses race. That was a very interesting event.

  2. You know how much I love the historic sites. Love this. Wish I could go on a tour to visit UNESCO sites world wide.

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