The Medieval Charm Of Siena
Located in the heart of the Tuscany region, Siena has been called Italy's loveliest medieval city. It is wonderful place to spend a couple days enjoying the area's "la dolce vita".
The center of the city is Piazza Il Campo, a large plaza surrounded by buildings built in the 14th century. It is said to be the largest piazza in Italy. It is so big that, twice a year, the piazza is home to a horse race called the Palio. Residents of Siena's 17 historic districts, known as contrade, dress in their colors and cheer on their neighborhood's horse and rider. Public races on Il Campo have been going on since the 1300's. The modern spectacle dates back to 1633.
Towering over the piazza is the Palazzo Pubblico, the Gothic town hall, and its tower Torre del Mangia. The whole area is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower is climbable via a set of very narrow stone stairs, worn smooth by centuries worth of foot traffic. Once on top the visitor is treated to stunning views of the city and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
This being Tuscany it goes without saying that the food and wine are fantastic. Dozens of restaurants dot the city. Larger establishments tend to congregate around Il Campo. But small, quaint, and equally as good places can be found by walking the narrow streets, such as Via Camollia. Remember, in Italy a meal is to be savored. Dinner can easily take two to three hours, and it's worth every minute.