Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The spectacular city of Siena, Italy

When visiting Siena you'll find that the principal sights of the city are to be found in the network of narrow streets and alleys around the fan shaped Piazza del Campo. Scarcely any street is level, as Siena like Rome is built on seven hills. Like Florence, Siena is a major tourist attraction so try and get their early so that you can enjoy the beauty of this city before the tour buses arrive.

Siena Duomo
The Piazza del Campo, set in the middle of the city is spectacular, the Campo (field) is divided into none marked sectors, symbolizing the Council of Nine, which was responsible for the government of the medieval city. James Bond fans will recognise the Campo from the movie Quantum of Solace, when Bond chased one of the baddies through the crowds cheering on the Sienese Palio, a bareback horse race which takes place in the Campo on 2 July and 16 August each year.

Piazza del Campo

Take some time to stand in the midele of the Piazza and admire the beauty of the archirecture surrounding it, this truly is one of Europe's special places. You can see that we were blessed with a beautiful sunny day when we were there which helped to showcase the city at its best. 

The focal point of the Piazza is the Fonte Gaia, a rectangular marble basin decorated by statues. The fountain now seen in the square is a 19th century copy of the original which was removed to preserve it from the ravages of the weather. The reliefs on the fountain feature Adam and Eve, the Madonna and Child and the virtues. Water is fed into it by a 25km (15mile) aqueduct, which has brought fresh water to the city from the hills since the 14th century.

Fonte Gaia

The Palazzo Pubblico, the Gothic townhall was completed in 1342. At 102m (330ft), the belltower is the second highest medieval tower to be built in Italy and as you can see I struggled to capture the complete building in one photo. 

Palazzo Pubblico

We loved our time in Siena, the city is small enough to wander round without getting lost and unlike Florence it feels clean and less overwhelmed by tourists. If you plan to visit Tuscany, be sure and add Siena to your plans for your trip, you won't be disappointed.