December 27, 2019

Starter Day in Siena, Italy

Whether you have the chance to stay in Siena over an extended period of time, or you're just in town for the day, Siena has plenty to offer in sights, walks, and Italian history. I was able to spend a sunny early afternoon in Siena on a day trip from Florence during our Christmas trip this year.


*I would note that there are several articles on the internet about whether or not to take the bus or train from Florence to Siena. I decided to take the bus there, but after a crazy trip of winding roads and listening to a child vomit several times, I definitely opted to return to Florence by train. The price is only about €1 different, and the train had an easy and familiar comfortable cadence to it. If you take the train, then it's simple to take a Siena city center bus to the main square, or you can opt to use the extensive escalator system that lifts you from the train station at the bottom of the hill all the way up to the historical city center. I personally enjoyed walking downhill from the center and seeing a few extra sights on my way back to the train station.


Once you've made your way into the city center of Siena, there are lots of options of churches, museums, and piazzas to enjoy. Here is a great starter list for your first time in Siena to get to know the city.


Piazza Giacomo Matteoti


Most visits to Siena will start in this main transportation square. In December, there is a Christmas market, and several places to eat and have a coffee. Additionally, around the rectangular piazza are three churches to get you started: Santo Stefano alla Lizza, Chiesa di Sant'Andrea, and Chiesa di San Pellegrino alla Sapienza.



Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena


Walking towards the town center, you'll pass by the courtyard of the historical bank of Siena. It's great for a photo backdrop or snacking on a cornetta and to-go cappucino!


Nannini


There are several Nannini cafes around Siena, and it's the place to go for gelato. So whenever you see a Nannini, pop in for a quick fruity or chocolatey combo that you can walk with to...


Piazza del Campo


This is the main center square of Siena. Many say that it's one of the best squares in all of Europe. It's a very interesting clam shell shape, descending down to the large castle-like government building in the middle. All the restaurants on Il Campo are a bit pricey, but nothing is outrageous, and worth it to enjoy a snack, meal, or drink on one of the most fantastic areas to people watch in Italy. You can also climb lots of steps up the Torre del Mangia for a complete overview of the square and Siena.



Duomo di Siena


What a beautiful plaza and church! I didn't have the time to go inside, but all the photos and reviews say it's worth it and gorgeous. It's really different from most Tuscan churches, both on the outside and inside.




Basilica Cateriniana San Domenico


On another nearby hill, you can make your way to the huge basilica. Not only is the church great to explore, but the views of Siena from this hill are fabulous!



Fortezza Medicea


Another angle for great views, nice walking paths, and even a lovely area to jog in, is the massive fort downhill from the town. It can be tricky to find the ramp to get up to the ramparts, but just make your way to the north side of the fortress and head on up!




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