Perfect Day in Siena

Nov 25th, 2005, 09:02 AM
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Perfect Day in Siena

Assuming it is a daytrip from Florence, how would you spend a perfect day in Siena?

When would you arrive and depart, where would you eat, where would you people watch and wander off the beaten path?

You get the idea. I know it is all subjective and based on your experience level, but thought it might be fun to see how some of you would do things.
Cato is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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Hi Cato!
I have been to Sienna twice, and it is my favorite place to visit in Tuscany. I was on a tour one time and second time hired a driver with Sunny Tuscany from Florence for the day and we went to Sienna. I don't have time to get out my guidebook, so my references are general, so please forgive me. But, I am sure with your book you will be able to see what I am talking about. Of course you will be wandering the medieval streets, but besides this the three highlights to me are 1. The Duomo, 2. The Church as you head into the town with the preserved head of St. Catherine of Siena (from the 1300s) in it. 3. Piazza Del Campo. I think the best place to eat is outside one of the cafes lining the Piazza Del Campo for great people watching! Have a great trip!
wtggirl is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 05:07 PM
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Hi wtggirl - thanks for the input. Siena looks like it has more than enough for a full day.
Cato is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 06:50 PM
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If you have the legs for it (and the energy), climb the stairs of the Torre del Mangia for an incredible view of Il Campo, Siena and the surrounding Tuscan countryside.
azure0327 is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 07:25 PM
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We spent a week in Siena last May and loved it. We didn't have anything other than a great meal the entire time there. If you want to know the names and addresses of where we ate, you can check out my trip report at
artlover is offline  
Nov 25th, 2005, 10:43 PM
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I've been to Siena about 4 times, each time a day trip from Florence (lived there for 4 months). I would recommend seeing the Cathedral and il Compo Square (forgive the horrible Italian - it's late and I'm going from memory). After that, just wander the city - it's beautiful and just wonderful to get lost in. The shops are great and the food is wonderful no matter where you go. When are you going?? If it's soon, Siena is really amazing during the Christmas season - Christmas lights, etc, are just really beautiful.
Jubes2681 is offline  
Nov 26th, 2005, 09:31 PM
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I think the perfect day in Siena would coincide with the Palio. But most of us have not been so lucky!

We went in June and it was so hot that we stopped for gelato at almost every opportunity. Bring a book with you and lounge around in Il Campo. Unlike wtggirl, I didn't like the cafes around Il Campo. I much preferred walking around and eating at the less busy places.

The Duomo was my favorite part of Siena, especially the Piccolomini Library.
fakemark is offline  
Nov 27th, 2005, 12:36 AM
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where would you people watch and wander off the beaten path?

Siena is very is just one of those places where the tourists overwhelm. i really don't think it is possible to have the feeling that you are off the beaten path. i'm not trying to be negative, just realistic.

when i visit florence, i like to balance it with some time in tuscany in order to relax.
walkinaround is online now  
Nov 27th, 2005, 06:34 AM
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Thanks for the additional comments.
Cato is offline  
Nov 28th, 2005, 06:07 AM
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I don't know when you are going, but the unique XIV century floor mosaics of the Siena Cathedral are only open to the public August thru October. We spent two and a half hours inside, longer than in any cathedral, even St Peter's Basilica in Rome, and it was not enough. But even if you travel outside of this timeframe, you are still in for quite a treat at the Cathedral. I would second other suggestions above. Enjoy.
enroute is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2005, 12:10 PM
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Cato is offline  
Dec 3rd, 2005, 12:36 PM
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I spent a day in Siena in July 2005 and it was indeed perfect. Next chance I get I will repeat it. This is what I did.

Took a bus from Florence about 8:30, arriving in Siena before 10am. Walked to Il Campo and hung around there, taking photos and soaking in the atmosphere. Then I just wandered around for a while on narrow, windy streets (wishing I lived there). I passed a bakery/deli type shop that was pretty crowded so I took that as a sign and went in and bough a panini to go, and a fanta. I walked to a courtyard behind a building (might have been the academy of music) on via di citta. It had a big long stone bench along the back wall, a beautiful stone well in the center and some frescoes on the wall of the building under an archway. There were several people sitting on the bench eating lunch so I ate my lunch there. From there it was a short walk to the duomo. I toured the inside and then went to the duomo museum, from the top floor of which you can climb the tower that was to be part of the duomo expansion that never occured. It's a steep, stone, spiral staircase and then a narrow wall you can walk along. Fabulous view of the duomo, Il Campo and all of Siena. Then I went to a ceramic shop at the foot of the stairs right behind the duomo where I bought two beautiful pieces of pottery.
I headed over to the Casa di Santa Caterina, and then to the Basilica San Domenico, stopping for gelato on the way. Then I went back to Il Campo, since it was so beautiful wanted to see it again, in afternoon light. I people watched for a while, had another gelato. I had planned to stay and have dinner in Siena but by this time I was really tired so I went back to the bus stop and headed back to Florence, getting there around 7pm.
isabel is offline  
Dec 9th, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Here are a couple of things I might do:

Eat outside and try some wild boar (cinghiale).

Sample some of the local wines stop by the Cantina in Piazza located just off the Piazza del Campo (24 Via Casato Di Sotto)

Go to enoteca located in the Fortezza, adjacent to the La Lizza gardens right inside the walls.

Eat a meal at Boccon del Prete on Via San Pietro.

Cato is offline  
Dec 9th, 2005, 09:05 AM
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My perfect day in Siena would definitely include people-watching in the Campo. On our last visit there, in 2004, we spent a long time at the only wine baronly wine bar on the Campo, Liberamente Osteria Wine Bar. The wine was excellent, it was a great location, and they also served with the wine some good antipasti - three bruschetta with halves of cherry tomatoes and a little fresh cheese; fresh cheese (mozzarella or pecorino?) with herbs; and mashed-up anchovies with parsley. It was great just to sit there.

In the Duomo, I also really enjoy looking at the paintings in the Piccolomini library.

Our favorite gelato place, which makes it's own gelato, is right by one of the entrances to the Campo, Gelateria la Costarella Caffe (via di citta, 31/33).

Lexma90 is offline  
Dec 9th, 2005, 09:43 AM
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The view from the top of the unfinished cathedral is one of the best in the world.
Off the beaten track? Stay there at night when the city returns to the middle ages.
logandog is offline  
Dec 9th, 2005, 09:54 AM
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Like Fakemark I would recommend witnessing a Palio. Normally one is held in July and one in August. In 2000 my wife and I were visiting Siena and by pure luck witnessed the incredible, special Palio pageant in September in honor of the Bicentnnial.

It is much more than the culminating horse race. It is hours of the various contratas (neighborhoods) parading in their particular medieval finery, tossing flags, etc..

Unless you are willing to pay hundreds of Euros, you would probably have to stand in the square for six or seven hours with 40,000 other tourists. My wife and I were in our mid-sixties and did just that and will never forget the experience.
Powell is offline  
Dec 9th, 2005, 09:57 AM
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Whatever you do, Cato, stop and have some panforte with wine or coffee. It is the Siena fruitcake and it is actually delicious when you get it from one of the bakeries right in town such as Nannini. There are different types of the cakes, some dark and some light and some flavoured such as chocolate.

SeaUrchin is offline  
Dec 9th, 2005, 05:43 PM
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The Siena walk found below looks interesting. That site has several other walks. Anybody ever done one of them? Bet they are all pretty steep!
Cato is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2006, 07:36 AM
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Anybody else?
Cato is offline  
Apr 23rd, 2006, 05:11 AM
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I haven't taken any of those walks, though I'd bet I've walked on at least some of those streets. The walks all look interesting, though I like the one you chose the best. I would do it were I back in Siena; and while Siena has some hills, I don't view them as that steep.
Lexma90 is offline  

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