Siena is one of the most popular cities in Italian Tuscany. The medieval city, which is under the protection of UNESCO, with a huge Cathedral of marble, cobbled streets, numerous palaces and temples attracts thousands of tourists from around the world. I will help you prepare for your trip to this city and show you my photos.
How to get to Siena: from Florence, San Gimignano
Siena hotels: where to stay
Siena attractions: what to see in 1 day
Siena guided tours
Where to go from Siena for 1 day
Siena car rental
What to taste in Siena: local cuisine
How to get to Siena from Florence, San Gimignano.
The easiest way to get to Siena from Florence is by car, public transport (transport links are well established) or with a guided tour. You can get to Florence from your country by flying to Florence airport or to Pisa airport . Check out the cheap Florence tickets from your city
Traveling around Tuscany by car is the most perfect way to explore the region, medieval cities and villages, and enjoy Tuscan landscapes. Car rental is better in major tourist cities – Florence, Pisa, or even in Rome. To rent a car in Italy, I recommend to use the service rentalcars.com , which offers a large selection of cars from all popular distributors. At the same time, when booking through this service, rent is cheaper.
I also have a large article on blog about car rental in Italy , where you can find detailed information about the rental. Here I will not dwell on this in detail.
Excursions are the second convenient way to visit Siena without thinking about transport, hotels and routes. For independent travelers I can offer group excursions in English, they are cheaper than individual tours. The guide’s English is at a fairly simple level, it is easy to understand. And the group is going to be multinational (tourists from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, China traveled from Siena with me), so it will be even more interesting than traveling with my fellow citizens. Here are some options for excursions from Florence to Siena:
How to get from Florence to Siena by public transport and taxi.
Distance Florence – Siena 85 km, you can overcome them by train, bus, taxi.
A train. In this direction, trains run from morning to evening, the trip takes an average of 1.5 hours. so you can go to Siena in one day. Ticket price 9.30 €.
Bus. The bus ride takes 1-1: 30 hours. There are several bus companies operating flights along the route.
- Flixbus ( my experience of traveling with flixbass in Italy ), from 5 €, departs from Villa Costanza, you can get there by tram from Florence train station for about 1.50 € and 20-25 minutes.
- Tiemme. Line 131-Di with Piazza Montelungo and 131R-Di with Piazza Tanucci. Cost 7.80 €, you can buy a ticket online at tiemmespa.it or at kiosks.
- Autostradale. Departing from a stop at Florence Main Station. The fare is 15 € one way, 28 € round trip. Buy tickets at kiosks or on autostradale.it. There you can specify the schedule.
To Siena from San Gimignano: how to get there.
If you travel to the cities of Tuscany and want to travel to Siena from San Gimignano, you have two options.
The bus . There is a direct bus number 130. The fare is 6.20 €. You can buy a ticket at the tourist office of San Gimignano.
Bus + train . The second option is more difficult, you need to make a transplant. By bus number 130 you need to get to the city of Poggibonsi (2.60 €), and then transfer to the bus in the direction of Siena (3.60 €).
Siena Hotels: Where to Stay
A small selection of interesting hotels for those who decide to stay in Siena for longer than one day.
Grand Hotel Continental Siena (9.0) – a chic five-star palace hotel in the center of Siena. Located in a 17th-century building, a 5-minute walk from the Cathedral. The rooms are decorated in a luxurious style with frescoes on the ceiling, antique furniture, porcelain as a decor. There is a restaurant, Sapordivino, which serves traditional Tuscan cuisine and breakfast. From 261 € with breakfast.
Residenza d’Epoca Palazzo Borghesi (9.6) is another historic-style luxury hotel. It does not have stardom, but a high rating speaks for itself. The hotel is located in the palace where the Borghese clan once lived; the frescoes of the 19th century and the original floor are preserved on the ceilings in the rooms. Breakfast is served in the morning. From 221 € with breakfast.
BnB Residenza d Epoca il Casato (8.1) is an affordable historic hotel with classic Tuscan décor and antique frescoes. Located in a 14th-century building behind Piazza Del Campo. From 90 € with breakfast.
Hotel Duomo is a three-star hotel located on a 12th-century estate, within walking distance of the Duomo. It offers gorgeous views of the Tuscan hills. The hotel has a romantic terrace with beautiful views. From 80 € breakfast.
Il Chiostro Del Carmine is a 14th-century monastery building, a 10-minute walk from Central Square. The hotel has a quiet courtyard formerly owned by the monastery and a traditional Tuscan cellar where breakfast is served in the morning. Parking is 100 meters from the hotel. From 81 € with breakfast.
Siena attractions and map of Siena.
Siena map with sights
If you want to download maps to your smartphone / tablet, or print, then these 2 detailed maps of Siena with landmarks are suitable for you. Open the picture in a new window and save the map:
The main attractions of Siena are the Cathedral (Duomo) and the central square of Piazza del Campo. I’ll start with the Duomo.
1. The Duomo in Siena, or Siena Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta).
Scheme of the Duomo Complex
It is one of the most famous Italian Cathedrals. The construction of the Cathedral began in the 13th century, and a century later, in 1339, the people of Siena decided by popular vote that their Cathedral should be more luxurious and magnificent than the Florentine Duomo and even St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. Despite the fact that the dreams of the Sienans were not destined to come true (in 1348 the plague broke out, and the construction of the Cathedral was not completed then), the Duomo resembles the Florentine Santa Croce in its appearance, and the decoration of the facade itself is Santa Maria del Fiore.
The Siena Cathedral was built in the form of a Latin Cross, over which a twelve-sided dome rises. The front facade is lined with white marble and decorated with sculptural compositions of various Gothic styles. In the cladding of the rear facade and side walls, in addition to white marble, dark green was used. The interior of the Cathedral is also magnificent: to decorate the Cathedral, the Sienans invited the most eminent masters. One of the main masterpieces is the department of work by Niccolo Pisano (13th century), made of snow-white marble. The main decoration of the department is reliefs depicting biblical subjects, and four columns (a total of 8) holding an octagonal structure stand on the backs of lions and lionesses. Noteworthy are the works of such masters as Michelangelo and Donatello, the icon “Madonna and Child” by Paolo di Giovanni Fey (14th century), “Madonna of the Maesta” by Duccio Buonnensen (14th century). The Piccolomini library stands out, its brightly decorated walls tell the story of the life of Pope Pius II, who was very loved in Siena. The library was built to store papal books and codes, and as a result turned into an extraordinary pictorial gallery of Pinturiccio.
The floor of the Siena Cathedral is, one might say, a separate, special attraction of the temple. Marble floor depicting plots is the result of centuries of work by Siena craftsmen.
For 600 years, the best artists of Siena have created this masterpiece. As a result, today we can see pagan paintings, philosophical miniatures, and biblical subjects. Surprisingly, the museum’s seasonality is divided into: high open floor season and low open floor season.
Another similarity with the Florence Cathedral – in addition to the Duomo itself, other objects are included in the Siena Cathedral complex.
Crypt. It is located on the territory of the Cathedral, but the relics are not stored here. It was discovered only in 1999, and today in Crypt you can see perfectly preserved 13th century murals.
Baptistery of St. John the Baptist. This building is located in Piazza San Giovanni (it is the opposite side from the main facade). It was built in 1316-1325, since then it has baptized all citizens of the city. The facade of the Baptistery, like the Cathedral, is faced with marble of two colors – white and black, and decorated with carved ornaments. Inside the Baptistery is painted with frescoes of the 15th century, and the main attraction is the hexagonal font of marble and bronze, the decoration of which was worked by Donatello, L. Ghiberti, J. Di Torino, as well as Jacopo della Quercia. The Baptistery of San Giovanni today is part of the Duomo Museum.
Museum of the Duomo in Siena (Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana del Duomo). The Cathedral Museum today houses a huge collection of sculptures, icons, textiles and other works of art that previously adorned the Cathedral. The main exhibits of the museum are sculptures by J. Pisano, Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia, masterpieces by Duccio di Buoninsenia and many others. You can also get to the observation deck, open at the site of the unfinished New Cathedral (Duomo Novo, No. 7 on the map).
A visit to the Cathedral and other facilities of the complex is paid, the price depends on the season. In High season, so as not to waste time waiting in lines, I recommend buying tickets in advance online.
Price of visit
- Cathedral only: 6-15 €, buy a ticket online . From November 1 to December 24 and from January 7 to February 28, admission to the Cathedral is free .
- Duomo Nuovo Roof Museum and Observation Deck: 8 €
- Crypt: 8 €
- Baptistery: 4 €
- Integrated ticket OPA Si Pass (Cathedral + all museums): 8-15 €, buy a ticket online
- Porla del Cielo All inclusive (Complex ticket + guided tour of the roof of the Cathedral): 20 €, guided tour on the roof must be booked
- Acropolipas + (Complex ticket + tour of the roof of the Cathedral + walk through the dome + visit Santa Maria Della Scala): 25 €
Cathedral 10:30 – 17: 30/18: 00 depending on the season. Check the working hours on the official website https://operaduomo.siena.it
Piccolomini Library, Crypt, Baptistery, viewing platform: 10: 30-17: 30 / 19:00, depending on the season
2.Piazza Del Campo.
This is the central square of Siena and one of the most interesting sights of the city. For starters, the area is interesting in itself, and not just the buildings that are located on it. The area is arranged where the three hills on which Siena stands converge, during construction they gave it the shape of a concave shell. Sectors paved with stones of different colors give even more resemblance to a sink (or a fan – as you like).
Interesting buildings on the Piazza del Campo:
Palazzo Publico (Palace of the Commune) – the main building of the square, which served as the city hall. The building was built in such a way that it repeats the bend of the square, and because of the battlements on the roof, it even looks something like a fortress. Today, the Town Hall occupies only the second tier, on the ground floor there is the City Museum, as well as the Rinovatti Theater (the largest theater in Siena).
City Museum . During a visit to the city museum, you can see the halls of the former Town Hall. The most popular halls: Globe Hall – the meeting place of the Council of the Siena Republic, and Hall of Nine – it hosted the meetings of the legendary Council of Nine, which ruled Siena in the 13-14 centuries. Separately, you can highlight the frescoes that adorn the walls of the Town Hall with plots of city management by the work of the masters S. Martini and A. Lorenzetti.
Opening hours : from 10 00 to 18:30 or 19:00 depending on the season.
Ticket price: 8 €, preferential 5 €
Glutton Tower ( Torre del Mangia). The Glutton Tower adjoins the Commune’s Palace. This is one of the highest towers built in the Middle Ages: its height is 102 meters. And the tower received this name in honor of the first guard of the tower, which was famous for a good appetite. The first bell in the Tower appeared in 1349, and the clock in 1360. At an altitude of 88 m, there is an observation deck where you can climb. There is no elevator in the Tower, therefore, the curious will have to overcome 400 steps. The cost of climbing the tower is 10 €. Complex ticket to the city museums and the tower 20 €. In this case, the first visit should be exactly in the tower.
Sansedoni Palace ( Palazzo Sansedoni) is opposite the Palazzo Publico. The building was built in the Gothic style in the thirteenth century for the Sancedoni family, which at that time was of great importance in the city. Previously, the tower towered at the palace, but later it was shortened due to the risk of collapse. Today, the building houses offices of banks, and on the ground floor there are restaurants.
The Fountain of Joy ( Fonte Goia) is located next to the Sancedoni Palace on the site where there once was a pool for collecting water. At one time, citizens were so happy to see water pounding from under the ground that they erected a fountain, which got its name. Today, the fountain is a swimming pool, lined with white marble and fenced on three sides by walls of the same material. The bas-reliefs depict biblical subjects, and water flows from the pipes that are in the mouths of she-wolves. Today, the originals of the statues are kept in the Santa Maria Della Scala Museum.
The Chapel del Piazza is a small chapel on the ground floor of the Torre del Mangia. Lined with white marble, it stands out very effectively against the red background of the tower and other buildings of the square.
In addition to the interesting shape of the square, the color and architectural unity of the buildings, as well as the eleven streets that diverge from the square, Piazza del Campo is known for this. The famous Palio is held annually on the square. Campo in Italian means “field”, and since 1169 in the documents the area is referred to as “a field for racing.” Hence the name.
What is a Palio
So Palio is horse racing. They are held annually, and only twice a year: July 2 and August 16. Siena is administratively divided into 17 concard, that is, districts, and 10 of the 17 concard annually take part in the Palio. On the day of the event, the area is covered with sand, a fence for spectators is mounted, and a costume parade is held before the competition.
3.Museum of the hospital of Santa Maria Della Scala.
Another popular museum, in addition to the city museum and the Duomo Museum, is the Hospital Museum. It is located opposite the Cathedral. This hospital is one of the oldest in Europe, its foundation dates back to the 9th century. For many centuries, pilgrims, beggars, orphans and all who needed it have been helped here. The museum in the hospital building was opened in 1995. The center of the complex is the Church of the Holy Annunciation (13th century). In addition to the church, underground labyrinths, narrow corridors decorated with colorful frescoes (S. Konka frescoes are especially famous), spacious halls with brick vaults, which store the centuries-old history of the city, are of interest. The main hall – the Pilgrim Hall – is dedicated to the history of the hospital.
Within the walls of the hospital is another museum – the National Archaeological Museum.
Official website : https://www.santamariadellascala.com/en/
Opening hours : Tuesday to Sunday 10:30 – 18:30
Visit price : 9 €, buy a ticket online .
Today the museum occupies the building of two palaces – Buonsignoria Palace and Brigidi Palace. In this art gallery you can see works of medieval religious painting. The collection is based on paintings by Abbot Giuseppe Chuckery (18th century), later the gallery was replenished with other works of art that were presented by many eminent citizens. And from the seventies of the XX century also by the works of famous Dutch, Germans, Flemings.
Official website : http://pinacotecanazionale.siena.it
Opening hours : from Tuesday to Saturday 8:15 – 19:15, Sunday, Monday and holidays 9:00 – 13:00, January 1 and December 25
Tickets : 4 € full, 2 € preferential.
5 Basilica of St. Dominic
In addition to the Duomo, in Siena there are other famous churches that are worth visiting. Firstly, it is the Basilica of St. Dominic (Basilica di San Domenico, 13th century). Located 300 meters from the Central Square, in Piazza San Domenico, this church looks very impressive and even resembles a medieval castle. It is in this church that the relics of the patroness of Siena are stored – St. Catherine of Siena. Art lovers have something to see. Frescoes of Sodoma, Giovanni, di Giorgio Martini, Guido da Siena’s painting “Maesta” (1270) and many other works of medieval art.
Entrance to the church is free.
6 Basilica of St. Francis
Built in the thirteenth century, this church is today listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Initially, the church was built in the Romanesque style, and in the 14-15 centuries it was expanded and gave a modern Gothic look. The most famous works of art that you should pay attention to in the church are: “Madonna and Child with Saints” by J. Dzukki, “The Crucifixion” by Lorenzetti, “Prayer of St. James” by J. Nicola, “Martyrdom of St. Martin” by P. da Cortona.
The entrance is free of charge
7. House of St. Catherine.
St. Catherine is the patroness of not only Siena, but of all Italy. One of the popular attractions of Siena is the house of St. Catherine. Now it’s not even a house, but a whole complex of galleries, chapels, loggias. St. Catherine was born in the fourteenth century and lived in this house before shearing, in the fifteenth century the house was bought by the city authorities and turned into a holy place. Famous architects worked on the arrangement of the complex. Crucifixion Church is the main building of the complex. The walls of this church are decorated with frescoes, which depict scenes from the movie Catherine. Another interesting object is the Saint statue carved in wood.
8. Trading loggia
This building, or rather high arches, decorated with bas-reliefs and statues of saints, are immediately evident when you walk through the center of Siena. The house itself (earlier it held meetings of the Trade Court) is located in a recess outside the fence. Today it’s almost impossible to get into the building, since the closed club Circolo degli Uniti has been located here since the 18th century.
9 Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea)
This attraction is located about 1 km from the city center, and it is very interesting to walk along the streets of Siena, including those located behind the fortress wall. The fortress itself was completed in 1563 (construction was carried out by order of Cosimo Medici), disarmament occurred in the XVIII century, and from the thirties of the 20th century the city garden was laid out on the territory. The first thing that surprises is a huge number of people running around! Yes, Italians monitor their health! There are still a lot of young people here, an amusement park has been opened (it looks like, of course, more like the Russian Central Park of Culture and Culture). A museum is open within the walls of the fortress, where various exhibitions are held, a library and an archive are located.
Guided tours in Siena.
Arriving in Siena, especially for a short period, I recommend that you book an excursion to get to know the sights of the city as soon as possible.
If you speak English at least at the minimum level, you can choose:
Sightseeing tour with ice cream cooking class , 53 euros per person
Wine tour with tasting , 65 euros per person
Where to go from Siena.
If you decide to be based in Siena, then here are a few options where you can go for one day and which cities you can visit:
- Florence. No comment here. TOP 20 sights of Florence.
- San Gimignano. A very beautiful, cozy town in Tuscany, it is worth stopping by at least a few hours to wander through the medieval streets and try the best ice cream in the world. Guide to San Gimignano .
Excursions to San Gimignano from Siena:
Chianti and San Gimignano (in English) , 42 € per person
San Gimignano, Chianti, Montalcino (in English in a mini-group) , 100 € per person
- Valley of Val d’Orcia. The most picturesque place of Tuscany. I would say, “Tuscany from a postcard.” I especially recommend visiting the towns of Montalcino, Pienza and Montepulciano. I must say right away that public transport is not an option to visit these towns in one day, not to mention enjoying the area and wine tasting. Ideally, go by car. But you can do without an excursion. I went here on such an excursion in English:
Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano: gastronomic tour from Siena , 55 euros per person
- San Galgano Abbey – a mystical castle in which Andrei Tarkovsky shot famous scenes from the movie “Nostalgia”
- Venice is not the closest city to Siena, but if you see the city on the canals and ride a gondola – this is your dream, you can go on a group tour.
Full day excursion to Venice from Siena (in English) , 99 € per person
- Cinque Terre – another amazingly beautiful place in Italy, is located in the Liguria region. The tour will take you all day, but the emotions from what you see should overshadow your fatigue
Full day excursion from Siena to the Cinque Terre (in English) , 99 € per person
Car rental in Siena.
As I already wrote, it is better to rent a car in large tourist centers – Florence or Rome . There is a lot of choice, which means more competition, therefore, rent is cheaper. Car rental in Siena is somewhat more expensive, but if you want to rent a car for a couple of days, then use the autoeurope.com service , which presents the main international car rental companies (Budget, Avis, Europcar). In general, problems with car rental in Siena should not be a problem. Read more about car rental in Italy here .
What to taste in Siena (local cuisine).
Finally, the most delicious section of the guide. Siena, as the region of Tuscany, is ready to offer you the most delicious local dishes and products. Tuscan cheeses, sausages, bread, vegetables – this is what you should definitely try. In addition to traditional Tuscan dishes, something special is worth trying in Siena:
- Pichi pasta (pici) is a traditional Siena pasta that looks like large spaghetti. Prepare and serve it with various sauces.
- Ribollita – Tuscan bread and vegetable soup, popular along with papa al pomodoro. It consists of beans, dried bread, black cabbage and various vegetables. Literally, ribollita is “cooked twice”, and initially it was cooked from what was left from yesterday.
- Panforte (panforte) – a dense cake (rather, gingerbread) from honey, flour, dried fruit, nuts and candied fruits. Panforte is considered a traditional Siena sweet.
- Richarelli (ricciarelli) – another Siena sweet known from the 14th century! Ricarelli are almond cakes, to which the sweet wine Vin Santo is perfect.
- Wine Brunello di Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano. These are the wines of the Siena region, they are recognized as one of the best in the world and have high statuses. You can try them as part of one of the excursions.
- Porchetta (porchetta) – fried pork stuffed with sage and rosemary. Sandwiches are usually made with porcelain – this is an inexpensive and tasty fast food.
This is where I end. I wish you an interesting visit to Siena and a delicious tasting of Tuscan dishes and wines! If you liked the article, save it on your social networks and share with friends!