Siena is located in Tuscany, 46 miles south of Florence. It is the largest of the hill towns that are scattered among the region here. Siena is famous for its large square, called Piazza Del Campo, winding medieval alleyways, and the Palio, a historic horse race that takes place twice during the summer months. During your visit to Siena, you will spend most of your time in and around Piazza Del Campo, the heart of Siena.What is the city layout of Sienta?
Siena is positioned along
ridges in a rough inverted `Y` shape, with the main Piazza del Campo at the junction of all three, and as such
is divided into three major neighborhoods called terzi (`thirds`),
each string roughly along a major street.
-The Terza di Camollia to the north runs from the Florence-pointed Porta di Porta Camollia down busy (with strolling pedestrians and shops) Via Banchi di Sopra to the center.
-The Terza di Città to the southwest along touristy, shop-lined Via di Città is home to the Duomo (cathedral).
-The Terza di San Martino to the southeast is a quiet neighborhood along Via Pantaneo and Via Salicotto to the battlemented Port Pispini city gate.
The train takes about an hour and a half from Florence to Siena
and runs frequently every day. If you`re coming from Pisa you may have to
change trains at Empoli. There are also trains once or twice an hour from Rome
(3-4 hours), though they always require a train change either at Chiusi/Chianciano
Terme or Grosseto.
The Siena train station is about a mile northeast from the historic center of the city. You can take a local bus into the city center. The walk is pretty much all uphill.
One of the fastest and easiest ways to travel around Tuscany, and
particularly between Rome and Siena or Florence and Siena is by bus. The SITA
bus station is just around the corner from the train station in Florence. SITA
buses to and from Siena take just under an hour, run frequently, and lets you
off in Siena`s historic city center. Make sure you take the`rapide` (express)
and not the `ordinarie` (which
stops in Poggibonsi and Colle Val d`Elsa.)
There is also bus service from Pisa airport to Siena via Siena`s local Tra-In bus service. You can get around Siena and its neighboring communities easily by the local Tra-In system as well.
Getting to Siena by car takes about two hours from Rome or forty-five minutes from Florence. It`s what to do with your car once you`ve gotten there that presents the greatest challenge. The car traffic is strictly limited inside the city walls so unless you have special authorization from your hotel be prepared to park outside.If I have a car, where can I park?
Parking near the city walls has become quite challenging for
locals and tourists alike. Most parking is metered. There is a free parking lot
next to the fortezza and a pay lot on the other side of the fortezza next to
the La Lizza Park; there is also a pay lot nearby at the nearby soccer stadium.
Note however that these pay lots are unavailable on market Wednesdays and
soccer Sundays. Parking along the street next to the fortezza is free, although
parking down some of the side streets is metered.
There is a pay parking lot at Porta Tufi (signposted `Il Campo Parking`), a 15-20 minute walk to the Piazza del Campo. There`s another pay lot at Porta San Marco (southeastern part of the city), as well as metered parking on the street leading into Porta Romana (southwestern part of the city) and a parking garage by Porta Ovile (also metered). You can expect to pay about €40,00 per day for a convenient spot. There is free parking further out, with minibus service, from Due Ponti and Coroncina (beyond Porta Romana).
If you`re staying overnight in the city, check with your hotel to see what your parking options may be.
center of Siena is accessible only on foot. Cars (other than taxis,
police, etc.) are strictly prohibited; motorcycles and scooters are OK, though.
Patrons of the central hotels are allowed to drive up and unload the luggage
(and then get out), but only by obtaining one-time permission slips from the
hotel front desk beforehand (have this pass handy if stopped by police while
driving within the walls). Outside the main city walls can be found
various parking areas. For more information, contact `Siena
Parcheggi` tel. 0577-228711.
By Bus: Google maps shows the location of all bus stops within the city. There are several small buses (Pollicino) that cover some streets located in the center and several bus lines to and from the outskirts of town. Bus tickets cost about €1.50 per ticket when bought at kiosks/tabacchi but are more expensive when bought from the driver.
Don`t worry about busy traffic, because most of the streets in Siena only allow pedestrians. Walking around in this ancient stone-build city will allow you to visit quite a few wonderful points of interest. Take your time to visit them, walking will allow you to enjoy the atmosphere of the city as walk. One thing to note is that there are some steep hills, if you get tired, check to see if you can get to your destination by walking along a ridge, rather than going in a straight line down a hill and back up.Can I pay/tip in US dollars?
The currency in Italy is the euro (€). Once you`re in Italy you`ll have to use the euro in most places. It is recommended to exchange at least some money before you leave home so that you can avoid lines at airport ATMs.Does Siena host a market?
Every Wednesday markets are set up around the Fortezza Medicea area. There is a huge variety ranging from clothing and accessories, shoes, household goods, and food. The best time to visit is in the morning, but it can get quite busy, with both locals and visitors all searching for bargains.I don`t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?
Italian is the official language spoken in Siena. Hotels, tourist attractions and restaurants in popular areas generally have staff that speaks some English. The Italians will be more friendly and eager to help if you try to speak some Italian. Just a couple of words are fine, they love it when they hear a stranger speaking their language. On the street, many people (especially young people) speak at least basic English. If you head off the beaten track then it`s a good idea to brush up on your Greek! We suggest you get a good English-Italian guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.What are the best areas for shopping and what is there to shop for?
You`ll find many large shops
and brand name boutiques as well as smaller workshops run by local craftsmen,
and a neighborhood market (on Wednesdays). The Terza di Camollia to the north (runs
from the Florence-pointe Porta di Porta Camollia) offers some great shops on a pedestrian
only street. Also, you`ll find the Terza di Citta to the southwest is lined
with numerous shops.
Siena is famous for its panforte, a sweet, dense cake city bakers created in the Middle Ages and still sold in shops all over town. Made from candied fruit and nuts glued together with honey, it resembles a gloopy fruit cake. Each shop has its own recipe, with the most popular varieties being sweet Panforte Margherita and bitter Panforte Nero.
Tuscany as a whole is famous for their food products such as the pecorino cheese from Pienza, the panforte and ricciarelli biscuits from Siena, lard from Colonnata, pan buccellato from Lucca. In addition you have the delicious Tuscan oil, wine and vinsanto. The most famous Tuscany wine is certainly Chianti wine, that is not the only one. You have also other Chianti such Montalbano and Chianti Rufina, as well as wine from Montepulciano and Montalcino, Vernaccia from San Gimignano and Morellino di Scansano from Maremma.
While never as overrun as Florence, Siena sees
plenty of visitors in the summer, but in October and November, the enervating heat
has given way to the gentle warmth of the Tuscan autumn. This is when the real
Siena comes to life.
The summer months of June, July and August are hot and can ve very crowded. In August, many Italians go on vacation, leaving some shops and restaurants closed. The temperatures in the fall months allow a better experience for visiting landmarks as the summer can offer a lot of heat. Keep in mind that even the mild winter months can be great to enjoy Siena in all its glory and you can avoid the crowds.
Tuscan cuisine is
justifiably famous for its inventive combinations of simple, fresh ingredients
chosen from an amazing variety of local products. Wild boar, extra-virgin olive
oil, truffles, fresh pecorino cheese, and porcini mushrooms are all found here.
Also raised locally are two special varieties of meat-producing animals: the
Cinta Senese pigs (distinctive with white bands on a black body) and the
Chianina breed of large, white-skinned cattle.
Siena and its province also have great wines: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Montepulciano and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
There is also plenty of choice for dessert: cantucci biscuits, Ricciarelli, Panforte and Cavallucci, accompanied by the classic Vin Santo.
Siena's culinary traditions reflect the hearty tastes of Tuscany while carrying their own distinctive touches, but even classic sienese dishes vary according to the taste and imagination of the cook. Traditional Sienese dishes include:
- Costini neri, toasted bread with liver
- Pappardelle con lepre, ribbon-shaped pasta with a sauce made with hare
- Pici, long, extra-thick spaghetti with a rich sauce
- Ribollita, a slow-cooked dense, soup-like mixture of bread, beans and vegetables
- Scottiglia, slow-cooked meats served with a tomato sauce
Many of Siena`s restaurants are members of the Slow Food movement that stresses the use of local ingredients, traditional preparations and an awareness of and appreciation for what we eat. Consequently, eating out can be an event in itself, a theatrical experience in which food takes center stage and flavors are savored and discussed.
Aside from the two annual Palio races, Siena throws a pottery fair in honor of the Festa di Santa Lucia on December 13. The prestigious Accademia Musicale Chigiana music center, (www.chigiana.it), sponsors concerts and opera year-round (the website has a schedule), culminating in the week of the Settimana Musicale Senese in July. St. Cecilia is celebrated on November 22 with church concerts. The extensive main city market is held Wednesday from 8am to 1pm, filling the streets around La Lizza.What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?
Emergencies: call tel. 112
The general hospital in Santa Maria Scotte of Siena is located in Le Scotte in Via Bracci 16. Web site: https://www.ao-siena.toscana.it/