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Siena: Duomo and Horseraces in a Medieval City

More Adventure travel tales in Italy:
Sightseeing in Rome
Ruins of Pompeii
Venice, City of Water
Other Southern European Tales:
Athens, Greece
Nafplion, Greece
Olympia, Greece
Cappadocia, Turkey
Selçuk, Turkey

Siena City Hall

From Florence we make a daytrip to Siena. The Siena Duomo is the highlight of this city, which is also famous for its Palio horserace, to be held on the beautiful central square. Where Florence is the city of the Renaissance, Siena is where we can taste a bit of the middle ages.

Siena lies on top of a hill, and the cold wind is blowing through the narrow, medieval streets. The sun is shining, but because of the winter it stands low, so we have to go to the big square, Piazza del Campo, to catch some of its warmth. This central square is locally admired as the most beautiful square in the world, but we think that’s a bit exaggerated. It is shaped like a nice shell, with the beautiful city hall on the low side, and many old buildings surrounding it on the high side. But apart from a relatively small fountain there are no special attractions here.

A special mention for the central square is the Palio, a medieval horse race to be held each summer. The square must be completely packed during that special event, of which we see many pictures and postcards.

View over Siena and its DuomoThe striped exterior of the Siena Duomo is similar to the one in Florence. But the interior here is much more interesting. The floor is full with beautiful mosaics, and there are many statues, pulpits, stained-glass windows, etcetera. A little odd that we can activate a few small lightshows by inserting a coin. A souvenir shop inside the cathedral is another sign that Siena's cathedral nowadays serves a more touristic than religious role.

We walk along through the streets of Sienna along churches and palaces. Yet, the city makes less of an impression to us than other Medieval cities we visited. We are probably spoiled, and the lack of warmth doesn’t help either. We visit the enormous Basilica di San Domenica, from where we have a nice view over the hill on which the city is located, and over Siena Duomo. On our way back to the bus station we pass the medieval fortress, but then it’s back to Florence.

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