Is Siena overrated?

Apr 20th, 2006, 12:25 PM
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well exactly, it's all about what interest you. So when you read something that says "the staff loved xxx city" don't assume you should also...just go and see.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 12:26 PM
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I was at a language school in Siena last monthoved it, didn't think it overated, but love Lucca as well. With regard the rivalry, On a minibus on its way to Montalcino, and I was discussing with a classmate thae fact that Montalcino was the last refuge of the Sienese government after their defeat by Florence sometime in the 1600s. Our teacher , born and bred in Siena said "We havn't lost yet, we are just regrouping".
willit is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 12:34 PM
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I'm always surprised people like the entire town of Siena as much as they do. I liked touring its duomo and artworks, but I otherwise disliked being in Siena pretty thoroughly, even in the showplace Campo, which I thought was a pretty unappealing place to hang around even if it was an engineering marvel. I don't feel I've shortchanged anything in the town, but I'd just rather spend my time elsewhere.

I feel that way about Boston, too! And Miami. And Barcelona. And San Francisco. It's funny, but I'd rather spend an afternoon in Edinburgh or Venice than in Siena. Or even Beirut. But if somebody told me they didn't like Madrid (I do) or Milan (I do) or Florence (I do), I wouldn't feel there was anything wrong with him. Or her.

I think Rick Steves travel books really are pretty middling, and many of the "crowd pleasers" he claims are going to please people so much are less interesting than other places he never mentions. He seems to think everybody goes to Europe to see old, storybook things and watch the natives be quaint.

espagnabound is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 12:44 PM
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To each his own...some people hate Rome and Paris and they are my two favorite cities. I did not care much for Florence and some people rave about it. I guess it depends on the weather, your mood, the people you encounter, what you ate and if you liked it, what you saw and did you find it interesting...I have often gone to a place several times and liked it more the first time than the second or vise versa. Many things shape your perception including your travel partner/s. I say that travel is fun (or should be) and is take something away with you regardless.
CRAZY4TRAVEL is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 01:23 PM
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The more highly rated a place is the more likely we'll find it overrated - if Siena were unheard of and we went there we'd be raving about it. I've heard similar comments about Bruges, Belgium, to me one of northern Europe's dreamiest cities if you get away from the mobs seemingly Velcroed to the main square. Expectations meet reality.
PalQ is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 02:37 PM
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Nicely put, PALQ.

My introduction to Sienna came in looking out the window of my room at Palazzo Ravizza, and I was in love! It was a first impression that would have been hard to overcome, enchanting, expansive countryside, with a church and a cemetery adding beautiful coral tones to the greenery.

I loved Sienna, but I can understand why it might not have held the same charm for someone else. I realize that at times I have somehow gotten off on the wrong foot in one city or other that I've visited. For example, we didn't enjoy Florence, which we'd visited just before Sienna. I've heard enough people rave about Florence to tell me that there is much to love in that city, but for some reason, I didn't see that.

Finally, I think we're all a bit too demanding. On our trip this May, I'm going to have as my goal the objective of finding just one wonderful thing to see in each city we visit. If I do that, the visit will have been worth it and all the additional wonderful sights will just be gravy.
Mary_Fran is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 02:48 PM
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It seems to me that the more well known and popular a place becomes the less charming it seems unless one can stay for a few nights and enjoy it after the daytrippers leave.

I still love Venice but I don't enjoy the touristy area (Piazza San Marco etc) as I once did.

CinqueTerre is not like it was before it was "discovered" by a well known travel writer.

Pisa, one now has to make reservations and buy a ticket to climb the tower. And from what I have read there are lots of trinket salesmen all around the area.

Rome, a ticket is needed to get into the Colloseum etc. It used to be that being in Rome during the month of September was considered the nontouristy time but not anymore.

And as others have said we all have different likes and dislikes.

But visiting anywhere does broaden our horizons and is educational whether we completely enjoy the place or not.

Perhaps J_999_9 if you had stayed a few nights in Siena you may have enjoyed it more but even than perhaps not. I love Milan, some people do but many do not. It is a good thing that we do not all have the same taste.

Personally I always find it interesting to read other travellers viewpoints of various places.

LoveItaly is offline  
Apr 20th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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Hmmm..nobody mentioned San Domenico, St. Catherine's church. A large interior with large paintings flanking the nave. About halfway down the right side is a small chapel where you see the lit-up face of St. Catherine, painted by her contemporary, Andrea Vanni. It is eerie, because the painting is not close to you and because it is framed and lit in such a way that you only see the face, which appears to be smiling. She has in interesting story. Look her up. She was a respected diplomat who ended the Great Schism by convincing the Pope to return to Rome from Avignon. I believe whe was eventually martyred. At any rate, her preserved head and a finger are on display.

Siena is not for a daytime, "hit the highlights" tour. It is deeper than that. I think it is Italy's most enchanting medieval city. Probably founded by the Etruscans, it was an historical rival to Florence. It founded the world's oldest bank. Once a year there is a wild horse race around the Campo by representatives of the Medieval Guilds. Give it a second go.
jtrandolph is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 04:51 AM
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People always think that if somebody didn't like being someplace abroad as much as they did, that person failed to do something -- like get out of the main tourist center or spend enough time there.

I walked all the way to the river in Brugge, spent several days there, walked around to the Beguinhof, saw the Michaelangelo and the art museum, went to St. Ann's church, walked around the windmills and the brewery, went to the park (near the Chinese restaurant) and ate with the locals. I saw parts of Brugge I am certain the people who love it never did.

I'd never go back. I thought it was interesting as a snapshot and otherwise just a tourist spot.

Siena is not just a tourist spot, but I've likewise spent enough time there to know I don't want to be in place that -- creepy is the only word I can think of. I didn't like the look of the place and I didn't like what I felt was a backward culture.

I'm glad other people found it to their liking, but quit imagining it's to everybody's taste if they just work at it. I don't like champagne or rum, either, or vanilla ice cream.
espagnabound is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 05:05 AM
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I'll join j_999_9 and say I didn't loooove Siena. I loved the Campo, I loved the Duomo with its charming floors, I liked the flock of marching flag-wavers and drum-beaters that surprised us outside the Duomo. I even liked the rogue thunderstorm that had us huddling under a scrap of awning (we didn't have an umbrella) and that washed the Campo clean. But I didn't like the hoards of tourists - hoards! - who crowded every site with their loud, disruptive voices. I didn't like our simple and nice, but very overpriced hotel room. And I didn't like the mediocre meal we were served at a "touristy" trattoria, where the food was obviously prepared without care. Siena, sadly, can be a bit of a tourist trap and I'm afraid that, unfamiliar with it, we fell into it. Alas. I love other Italian cities - Bologna, Modena, Rome... but not Siena.
petitepois is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 05:54 PM
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Hi J999 & 9,

Count me among the few who didn't LOVE Siena. Hindsight being 20/20 I would have stayed in San Jimmy next time.

But all of this is so subjective. It really does boil down to what you like and your experiences. This is why those "travel reports" must be read carefully to see if you're on the same page as the person reporting it. And don't even get me started on Rick Steves!

So much of our travel has to do with our experiences and that's never going to be the same for every person. I stayed in Siena for 3 days, but the thing I'll always remember is coming back to our hotel and getting an impromptu group of Americans together and drinking wine and discussing where we'd been and where we were going. That will be my favorite memory of Siena.



wlzmatilida is offline  
Apr 21st, 2006, 07:03 PM
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San Jimmy? Is that near Flo?
Apr 22nd, 2006, 09:51 AM
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Sometimes magic happens, sometimes it doesn't. It isn't necessarily the place itself, just random events that might or might not happen - people one meets, a certain light in the sky, or in Siena, a dog that we'll always remember that 'sang' along to the church bells. You can't really prescribe this, so don't be too disappointed if it doesn't happen.

On the other hand, sometimes random events can spoil an experience - road construction downtown, or one's coming down with a cold, or miserable wet rain, or in your case, being trampled by fellow tourists. Again, no telling if these will happen each and every time, so nothing to do with the place itself. Generally, unless a place is a toxic waste dump, one needs at least two trips before writing it off.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 01:00 PM
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We spent 2 weeks in Rome, Florence, Cinque Terre and the Tuscan region. We spent one night in Sienna and it was our least favorite day of the whole trip. Completely over-rated in my opinion.
michellen is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 02:08 PM
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Funny, Neopolitan. You are quick!
i_am_kane is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 07:49 PM
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I am so glad that you-all are going to stay away from Siena, so that when I go back you will not be there. May I ask, did you go there independently, or were you on a tour? We saw the tours coming and beat it out as fast as we could to the lesser known areas. Try, next time to go there on your own, with no time's Tuesday, the bus is leaving for (fill-in-the-blank).
jtrandolph is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 08:09 PM
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I enjoyed Siena very much. The Duccio Maesta alone! The Lorenzetti frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico...oh, there's lots to see. I haven't been there in seven years though--perhaps it's a lot more crowded than it used to be. I was there in October 1999 and aside from inside the Duomo (tour groups), and the Campo itself, it wasn't crowded. Especially when one wandered off the main streets.
DejaVu is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 09:08 PM
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Many people who take tour buses to Siena ADORE it! Daytrippers too. I went there independently.

What does if feel like to think that your reactions are the only acceptable ones and that others who don't have them should be insulted and told to go away?

Since I study Italian art, I'm sure I'll be back in Siena again because it's art collections are unique. Glad to know you won't be clogging up the museums but will instead be hanging out somewhere totally uninteresting. Maybe you should avoid Siena to avoid us since you seem to think the place isn't big enough for independent thinking.

Actually, it is awfully cramped.
espagnabound is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 07:14 AM
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We were in Siena in 2002 and we thought the same thing! (Although we did enjoy our gelato in the square.) We fell in love with San Gimignano. It was by far more beautiful and we can't wait to go back to spend more time.
edhill is offline  
Apr 24th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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Well, actually, construction on the Siena Duomo began long before Orvieto.
DejaVu is offline  

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