10 things to do and see in Siena

A complete and detailed guide about 10 things to do and see in Siena in 1, 2 or 3 days

10 things to do and see in Siena
10 things to do and see in Siena

You can appreciate the beauty of Siena only after some days you left the city. When you are there,  you are too busy  to see as much as possible, so you don’t immediately realize the beauty that surrounds you. Memories come after some days: the first thing that you’ll remember is Piazza del Campo, then the Public Palace and the Torre del Mangia,  the black and white of the Cathedral and the Baptistery

But, maybe, the thing that you are going to remember better is the colour of the façades and of the roofs. The famous colour Sienna, that makes the city landscape coherent, harmonious and lovely to watch. Siena it’s not changed in appearances from the middle age to nowadays and walking through its streets it’s a kind of time travel, the search of a golden age, very common for some Italian cities.

If you are looking for a hotel in Siena, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 100 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

Piazza del Campo in Siena


Piazza del Campo in Siena is considered one of the most beautiful squares of the world. It has a characteristic shell-shape divided in 9 slices, that you can admire from the top of Torre del Mangia. From the 1300 this square is the centre of Siena and it has the function of market place, of meeting point for all people during important political moments or celebrations, for example twice a year in occasion of the famous palio. Today Piazza del Campo is the tourist place par excellence, a must see of the city, full of souvenirs markets (which doesn’t damage the beauty of the place). Public Palace – Palazzo Pubblico –  with Torre del Mangia is very impressive while all the square is surrounded by beautiful and impressive nobility houses. The tourist ritual in this square wants the people to sit or lie down on the ground to admire the sky in a very original position. Actually it’s a way to rest after all the ups and downs in the city’s alleys. On the top of the square  there’s the “Fonte Gaia” one of the most beautiful fountains of Siena. It was carved by Jacopo della Quercia between the 1409 and the 1419, the one you can admire in the place today is a copy of the original.

The Public Palace of Siena


The Public Palace of Siena is the place of the political power of the city. Since the “government of 9” (that in 1300 made Siena a beautiful city) to nowadays all Siena’s governors lived there. If only nine politics thought and realized these wonders, we would expect something better from the thousand politics that nowadays crowd the city halls…
The Public palace of Siena is considered one of the most beautiful civil palaces in Italy. It has always been admired for its harmony and majestic. A beauty  already perceived during the construction of the palace, so much that the city government, during the works, passed a precise edict.  It obligated the owners of the buildings in Piazza del Campo to build their houses observing rules of stylistic coherence, but, at the same time, they couldn’t be more beautiful or bigger than the Palace. In the Palace there’s the Civic Museum of Siena too, decorated with the famous frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti which represent the allegories of good and bad government.

Where: Piazza del Campo
How to get there: by feet from the city centre
When – Hours: From 1.11. to 15.03: 10 am – 6 pm; From 16.03  to 31.10: 10 am – 7 pm; New year: 12 – 6 pm ; never: Christmas
Ticket: Full price: € 9.00 without booking – € 8.00 reservation
Reduced: € 8.00 without booking – € 7.50 reservation (boys aged 11 to 19 years, over 65, university student not members of the Siena university institutions)

Torre del Mangia in Siena


You shouldn’t go on the top of this tower, which is 88 meters high, if you suffer from dizziness , but we warn you: you’d lose an exceptional view. Up there the spectacle is breathtaking, you can see all the city: the square, the Cathedral and all the hills surronding the city. The tower takes its name from Giovanni Duccio, first keeper of the tower, also known as “Mangiaguadagni” (Litterally: “Money eater”). He spent all his money eating in all Siena’s taverns. That’s why the tower is called “Torre del Mangia” (Litterally: Mangia’s Tower). The legend tells that, during the construction, at the foot of the tower were hidden some lucky coins. Moreover at the 4 corners of the tower there are stones on which are engraved Latin and Hebraic phrases with the task of keeping away thunders and storms from the tower.

Where: Piazza del Campo
How to get here: By feet, 400 steps to go on the top
When – Hours: From the 16th October to the end of February, every day from 10 am to 4 pm (the ticket office closes at 3.15 pm).
From the 1st March to the 16th October, every day from 10 am to 7 pm (the ticket office closes at 6,15 pm)
Tickets: 7 € – 12 € the ticket comprehends the visit to the Civic Museum too.

The civic museum in Siena


The civic museum in Siena hosts one of the most known allegories of the world: the allegory of the good and bad government, painted on the walls by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In 1337 the “Government of the 9” asked Lorenzetti to decorate the room where the guests were received, with a fresco that represented the ideals of the city and its governors. For the first time an allegoric fresco cycle had a civil subject and not a religious one. This allegory expresses how a good or a bad government can decide the wellness or the decadence of the society. The other great protagonist of the Museum is the “Majesty” painted by Simone Martini, the Nine asked this work to testify the great devotion of Siena’s people to the Virgin.

Where: Piazza del Campo
How to get there: by feet in the city centre
Tickets: Full ticket 7,50 €, with reservation 6,50 €. Reduced ticket 4,50 €, with reservation 3,50 € (students, over 65, military and invalids)
When – Hours: 1st November – 15th March 10 am – 6.30 pm
16 March – 31 October 10 am – 7 pm

The Cathedral of Siena


Tourists usually arrive at the Cathedral after Piazza del Campo, so they don’t expect to remain surprised again. Nobody thinks that in Siena there is something bigger and more beautiful. Well, they wrong. There’s still the Cathedral with its black and white façade. This impressive church is dedicated to Maria Assunta. The richest jewels are inside: the floor full of esoteric symbols and religious stories: the sibyls of the history, the slaughter of the innocents, king David, Hermes Trismegist, the life of Moses and the Sacrifice of Iefte. In the left aisle, just before the transept, there’s the Piccolomini Library, frescoed by Pinturicchio, that, in spite of the name it never hosted the books of the Pope Pio II.
Just beyond the library there’s the Piccolomini Chapel, in which there are 4 statues made by Michelangelo (he worked there from 1501 to the 1504). The statues ornate the 4 inferior niches of the Chapel. The pulpit deserves attention too: there are represented scenes taken from the Bible and Jesus life, it was made by Nicola Pisano.

Where: Piazza del Duomo
How to get there: by feet in the square
When – Hours:
Cathedral, Piccolomini Library, Museum, Panorama dal Facciatone, Crypt, Baptistery
From 01.03 – 02.11 – 10.30 am – 7,30 pm Cathedral Public holiday 1.30 pm – 5.30 pm
From 03.11 to 28.02: 10.30 am – 5.30  pm Cathedral Public holiday 1.30 pm – 5.30 pm
From 26.12 to 06.01: 10.30 am – 6.00 pm Cathedral  Public holiday 1.30 pm – 5.30 pm
Period Uncovering Floor Cathedral Holidays 9:30 am  to 6:00 pm
Opening Sunday Cathedral just for the month of March 1:30 to 5:30 pm
From July 1 to 31 Cathedral on holidays close at 7.00 pm
Last entry one half hour before the closing time of Museums.
Cathedral + Piccolomini Library € 4.00
from 01/11 to 24/12 and from 07/01 to 28/02 free Cathedral and Piccolomini Library € 2.00
Cathedral floor uncovering period + Piccolomini Library € 7.00
Museo dell’Opera and Panorama dal  Facciatone € 7.00
Crypt € 6,00 (€ 8.00 in the event of extraordinary events)
Baptistery € 4.00
Opa si Pass all inclusive (not including the path Gate of Heaven)
€ 12.00 from 01/03 to 31/10, € 8.00 from 01/11 to 24/12 and from 07/01 to 28/02, € 10,00 from 26/12 to 06/01.

Museo dell'Opera del Duomo in Siena


From the right of the cathedral you can access to the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (or Metropolitana), which collects the works coming from the Cathedral and the Diocese of Siena.

Impossible to list the complete set of  masterpieces, but a few will be enough to convince you to visit this museum: the Tondo of Donatello depicting a Virgin and Child,  Enthroned Virgin and Child and Cardinal Casini, work by Jacopo della Quercia, the Majesty of Duccio da Buoninsegna, the ten statues of saints by Giovanni Pisano which once were exhibited in the Cathedral, the Nativity of the Virgin by Pietro Lorenzetti the Dead Jesus of Sodom (great) and much more.

Where: Piazza del duomo
When – Hours: see info to access at the Cathedral

The Baptistery of Siena


The Baptistery is placed just at the back of the Cathedral. From 1325 it competes with the Cathedral for the role of the most important religious building in Siena. For many centuries people of Siena used to be baptised under the ogival arch of the Baptistery. On the three naves you can find the frescoes by Benvenuto di Giovanni ( “The miracles of Saint Anthony of Padova” – 1460) Pietro degli Orioli (“The washing of the feet”) and Lorenzo di Pietro known as “il Vecchietta” (vault  frescoes representing “the Articles of Faith”, 1447 – 1450). But the protagonist of the baptistery is the baptismal font made of bronze and marble and placed at the centre of the church. It has been created by the great artists of that period: Jacopo della Quercia, Giovanni di Turino, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello. The latter realized two of the six bronzed angels which decorate the ciborium

Where: Piazza San Giovanni
When – Hours: see info to access at the Cathedral

The Nation Art Gallery in Siena


A visit to Siena would not be complete without visiting the masterpieces preserved in the National Art Gallery. The arrangement of the works of the ‘400 and’ 500 of Siena artists is on the first floor, but the masterpieces are located on the second floor, where the works are arranged chronologically from the origins of Siena paintings until the second half of the XV century: Duccio (Madonna Franciscan), Simone Martini, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti (“the Little Majesty”) (fourteenth century), Sano di Pietro, Giovanni di Paolo, Sassetta, Matteo di Giovanni and Francesco di Giorgio Martini (fifteenth). On the third floor are collected the works of Spannocchi-Piccolomini Collection (rich Sienese family) with a St. Jerome by Albrecht Durer and a Nativity by Lorenzo Lotto.

Where: Via di San Pietro
How to get there: by feet in the city centre
When – Hours:
Monday: 09:00 am to 1:00 pm
Tuesday through Saturday: 08:15 am  to 7:15 pm
Sunday and holidays: 9:00  am to 1:00 pm
St. Ansano (Patron)  1st December : 9:00 am to 1:00 pm
Never: 1 January – 1 May – 25 December
Ticket: Full price: 4 EUR
Reduced price: € 2 (European Union citizens between 18 and 25 years and state school teachers)

Things eat in Siena


You cannot talk (and taste) the cuisine of Siena without speaking of the territory in which its products are born. The hills around the city offer  oil, wine, meat and vegetables. Thanks to the farmers’ wisdom, these ingredients are transformed into a genuinely popular kitchen

The boar (especially the Cinta Senese) and the hare are the principal ingredient of  crostini (slices of grilled bread),pappardelle (homemade pasta) and dishes of grilled meat. Always with the crostini (served as appetizer) you can taste various kind of boar ham and salami, pecorino (ripe cheese), honey and fegatelli (small pieces of pig’s liver). Among the soups the “ribollita” is the one that helps better to face the cold winter. Always on the table the wines of Tuscany: Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Montepulciano and the Vernaccia di San Gimignano. People who loves dessert can enjoy: cantucci (biscuits with toasted almonds), ricciarelli , panforte , and cavallucci  generally served with Vin Santo(dessert wine).

Where to sleep in Siena


Visited every day of the year by thousands of tourists, Siena is one of the crowded destinations in Italy. Luckily, the city has a great tourist organization and also a large number of hotels, rooms, bed and breakfasts and guest houses. Sleeping in a hotel in the centre can be expensive and it requires reservations in advance.

A much better chance to find  a cheap room can be offered by  agritourisms  in the surrounding hills and villages around Siena. The price for a double room in a 3 star hotel in the centre from 90 EUR per night while in the agritourisms  outside the city centre there are good rooms from 50 euro per night.

If you are looking for a hotel in Siena, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 100 hotels with prices, pictures  and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com