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Siena is a city with a rich and fascinating cultural legacy and an excellent place to visit. The streets look like they’ve stayed the same for centuries and the entire central city has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are magnificent cathedrals, churches, art museums, and public buildings all around, with excellent restaurants and craft shops scattered in between.
History buffs and art lovers alike will appreciate the old buildings on every corner, galleries big and small, and some truly staggering mediaeval palaces. Start at the Piazza del Campo, the city’s main public space. It is lined with impressive old houses and shops and is dominated by the Palazzo Pubblico. Head inside to find the Museo Civico, where you’ll see frescoes from hundreds of years ago.
Climb the stairs of the nearby Torre del Mangia for a breathtaking view of the area. Duomo di Siena is another of the city’s most spectacular landmarks. The towering Gothic structure was built in the 1200s and is best known for its black and white marble façade and the amazing artworks that decorate its walls. Be sure to visit the Biblioteca Piccolomini inside the cathedral to see its beautiful frescoes and old books. For more stunning churches, check out the Basilica di San Domenico or the Abbazio di Monte Oliveto Maggiore just outside the city.
Take a break from sightseeing and simply stroll the streets, duck into great little shops, and try out some excellent restaurants. Anyone in town for July 2nd or August 16th will be in for an incredible spectacle. The horse race known as Il Palio is run twice a year, stirring local passions and stoking ancient rivalries. Siena has been divided into 17 Contrade (districts) since the mediaeval era, 10 of which compete in the race each year. Enjoy the parades and festivities leading up to the races and take in the electric atmosphere.
Siena is an historic city with a formidable legacy. Visitors can admire its architecture, spend hours gazing at centuries-old artworks, or just soak up the tradition that permeates every street.