What to do and see in Siena, Italy: The Best Places and Tips

July 27, 2017 Nicolette Lion

This Tuscan hill town will transport you back to the Middle Ages. Siena's grand cathedral, built in the 1200s, has treasured artworks and marvelous marble floors. The Piazza del Campo, the main town square, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's also home to the Palio, perhaps the most infamous horserace in the world. No goofy hats and mint juleps here—this is a medieval tradition involving bareback riders racing on cobblestones (so as you might imagine, it's quite dangerous). Siena is an easy daytrip by train from Florence, just 43 miles away.
Restaurants in Siena

1. Piazza del Campo

Piazza del Campo, 53100, Siena, Italy
Excellent
78%
Good
18%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 11 reviews

Piazza del Campo

Siena's main square is the site of the famous Palio horse races that take place in July and August.

Reviewed By hahabye - Orlando, Fl

Great place to sit in the sun, people watch, enjoy the sights, or even a meal! Very charming, old world piazza.

2. Siena Cathedral

Piazza del Duomo 8, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 286300
Excellent
83%
Good
13%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 9 reviews

Siena Cathedral

The magnificent complex of the Cathedral of Siena, its Duomo, houses a series of some of the most important monuments of the European artistic Panorama. With its more than one million visitors every year, the Cathedral without a doubt represents the fulcrum of the entire complex, while other significant elements include the Crypt, the Baptistery and the Museo dell'Opera, all part of the impressive mass formed by the "Duomo Vecchio" (Old Cathedral), and the "Duomo Nuovo" (New Cathedral). Visitors will travel along a memorable itinerary to the discovery of self and the truth of faith through culture and art, the result of more than a millennium of Western history.

Reviewed By AbbyRL - Brisbane, Australia

The internals are the most richly decorate Cathedral we saw in Italy. Amazing tiling on the floor, and the music room (with pages and pages of old sheet music) was also fabulous. The externals aren't that fabulous but the internals.. something else!

3. Biblioteca Piccolomini

Piazza del Duomo, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 283048
Excellent
85%
Good
12%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 1 reviews

Biblioteca Piccolomini

Reviewed By VadimM67 - Murmansk, Russia

The Piccolomini library is adjacent to the left of the Cathedral. Ten frescoes by Pinturicchio attract to the library. Library was created in 1492 by order of the Archbishop of Siena, Francesco Todeschini Piccolomini (then Pope Pius III). However, it is dedicated to the previous Pius.Pinturicchio portrayed the career of Pope Pius II, Born as Sienese citizen Enea Silvio Piccolomini. Pius II was a n interesting person, a son of his time. He was ordained a priest only in 40 years. Before that, he lived a rich social life, was a Secretary of bishops and cardinals, diplomat, trailed behind the women and wrote erotic poetry. Piccolomini became a cardinal in 9 years after the adoption of the dignity of the priest, and just in 2 years, he's already the Pope. I must say secular past did Pius II rather good Pope. He was a humanist, funded science to combat the plague, expanded Rome's Sapienza University. Italy owes him another position in the list of UNESCO: Pius II rebuilt his home village Corsignano into a model Renaissance city. Not far from Siena. All of the above coexisted in him well with militancy He executed a few hundred of the Romans after the suppression of the rebellion and gathered a crusade against the Turks. Generally he was the perfect Renaissance person of the era and style of Machiavelli. Pinturicchio had a great texture for his frescos. There is a theory that the frescoes based on sketches by Raphael, he's posed for some of frescoes. Maybe, but I have not seen anyone like the portrait of Raphael in the Vatican Stanza. In addition to the splendor of the frescoes, it is worth to pay attention to the painted ceiling, also brush by Pinturicchio, the Pieta, the work of Alberto di Betto da Assisi on the altar. The dominant feature of the library is the statue of the Three Graces, It`s the Roman copy of a Greek original.

4. Scuola di Cucina di Lella

Via di Fontebranda 69, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 46609
Excellent
91%
Good
8%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
0%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 120 reviews

Scuola di Cucina di Lella

Reviewed By Andrea D - Ottawa, Canada

We were 2 couples and enjoyed this experience very much. The Madame who was the chef and instructor was speaking Italian and she had a very nice lady translate for her, they were a great team! The idea here is less about cooking yourself, but more about being in a beautiful kitchen watching a master do her work. It is very well organized and there is a symbolic approach to being involved and cooking, meaning, some one in the group gets to do a few things to facilitate the meal. We were lucky as both guys in our group played a significant role in the preparation of 2 main dishes.
Best part though is the group dynamic and eating together at the end of it all. The food was really delicious and it's a great feeling to see it from start to finish.
If I can make one recommendation to Madame chef, it'll be to spend less time making the fresh pasta as it is a good exercise to do, but not really a practical one as it does take some skill to make the pasta thin enough to enjoy eating . My advice would be to continue with the making of fresh pasta but have some already made up to actually serve. The pasta we made was not interesting in my opinion, however the tomato sauce was superb.
Other than that, it was a beautiful evening and a great way to have dinner outside of a resto. I highly recommend taking the time to try it!

5. Centro Storico di Siena

Piazza del Campo, 53100, Siena, Italy
Excellent
81%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
1%
Poor
1%
Terrible
0%
Overall Ratings

5 based on 1 reviews

Centro Storico di Siena

Reviewed By laneybelle - Fort Collins, CO

Siena is a charming city of narrow winding streets, steep hills, quaint restaurants and bars, and of course the Piazza Campo. This so-called "Historic Center" has so much charm and atmosphere; just take your time, wander around, browse, and soak it all in. The medieval architecture of the buildings makes a stunning city to explore.

6. Torre del Mangia

Piazza del Campo 1, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 292342
Excellent
68%
Good
26%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 2 reviews

Torre del Mangia

The tower, more than 290 feet high, was constructed in 1325 by Minuccio and Francesco di Rinaldo, and has the Chapel of the Piazza at its base..

Reviewed By Titus D - Sri Lanka

This amazing bell tower built in the early 14th century, dominates Siena's Piazza del Campo. It The cost for the entry 10 Euros for the entry for the fabulous views if you feel fit. But it is almost 400 steps, and on places these are very narrow, especially near the top, so to put it bluntly if you are overweight you might well not get through. Parts of the staircase are very narrow and steep.
This is not a trek for the faint of heart or large individuals. There are some very tight spots. Stairs, stairs, stairs and a view. Security is tight and most items are stored in lockers before you go all the way up. No bags or umbrellas are allowed up the stairs.
This amazing bell tower, built in the early 14th century, dominates Siena's Piazza del Campo. You get fabulous views from the top. A must see.
From the top, you also look down on Piazza del Campo. Make sure you're fit enough for the climb, up and down.
It was a nice attractions and the surrounding area especially on a sunny day.
It's easy to spend a few hours over the and enjoy a nice meal in the restaurant in the square
It's a climb to the top through very narrow passages. Some are tighter than others. They are dark, would get wet and windy due to rain. Passing between those going up and down at the same time can be tricky. Some areas are very steep. When meeting people coming the other way requires squeezing into a corner while climbing or descending.
Near the top there's a section where they are open to the elements, but at the very top there are glass panels above the railings so you can see without feeling too exposed to the height.
Seeing the Campo laid out below is worth the climb. We were given a set time to go up as the stairs are narrow so be sure to get tickets when you arrive in.

7. Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala

Piazza del Duomo 1, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 534511
Excellent
67%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 477 reviews

Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala

This museum complex, which houses the National Archaeological Museum of Siena, began as a pilgrims' hostel and orphanage, then served as a hospital from the 10th century to modern day.

Reviewed By JohnUK - London, United Kingdom

Hadn't known what to expect, but WOW! This museum goes on for miles with many chapels, frescoes and non-religious antiquities. Loved the projections on the walls. It's a very confusing layout and we may have missed something but what we saw was outstanding. St Catherine's chapel in the bowels of the building was very atmospheric.

8. Battistero di San Giovanni

Piazza San Giovanni, Siena, Italy +39 0577 286300
Excellent
59%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 725 reviews

Battistero di San Giovanni

Reviewed By Koral88 - Europe

Every guide book talked about this place but it is very tiny and in the same style as the Cathedral. If you have seen the Cathedral, the Baptistery doesn't look that impressive to me. It has great frescoes but the Cathedral has loads too.
Not a must according to me.

9. Palazzo Pubblico and Museo Civico

Piazza del Campo 1, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 292226
Excellent
62%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 718 reviews

Palazzo Pubblico and Museo Civico

Siena's City Hall, whose construction began in the 13th century, houses the city's Civic Museum, whose collection includes the profound fresco entitled "Allegory of Good and Bad Government."

Reviewed By VadimM67 - Murmansk, Russia

I went to the Palazzo Pubblico to see Lorenzetti. Rather, its famous frescoes with allegories of Good and Bad government. The Palazzo Pubblico itself is an outstanding example of Gothic civil architecture. Frescoes "Maesta" Simone Martini, written in the early fourteenth century is something for which you can come to the Palace in addition to Lorenzetti. However, it is still a religious painting under strong Byzantine influence. The frescoes of Ambrogio Lorenzetti have a secular character, as the Palazzo Pubblico itself. They are in the Hall of Nine, where the City Council has worked. Lorenzetti created them in 1338-1339. How do we know this? What document can tell us in Siena, where the oldest Bank in the world exists till this time? Correctly! Account for payment of works with 111 florins. Unfortunately, the master did not survive terrible plague of 1348, which killed two thirds of the residents of Siena. Three walls of the hall are painted with frescos. Lorenzetti is often used for books on politics and political philosophy. Why? The frescoes express the two ideas clearly: the peace of the rational principle which provides prosperity and bad, foolish beginning, sowing destruction and chaos. Interestingly, in the times of Vasari, the frescoes were called "war" and "peace." The cycle was divided by the image of "The Allegory of the good government" and "The effects of good government", and "Allegory of bad government and its effects".The large figure of an old man is in the center of "Allegory of the good government". The figures Peace, Strength, Prudence, Justice, Temperance, and Generosity sit on the either side of him. The most interesting figure in this set is a woman, symbolizing the Peace. UNESCO chose her as a universal emblem of peace. The giant planer on wood is resting on the knee of Justice — an allusion to universal equality before the law. The mural "Fruits of good governance" located on the East wall. Notice that the Palace and tower are clearly positioned on the side of the world. The mural "The effects of good government" is on the West wall. The city with obvious signs of anarchy and ruin, which excesses, murders and robberies are depicted in the center.The tyrant is with horns in the center of the composition. The tyrant is holding a glass of poison in his left hand. Different vices soar above him. The Greed in the image of the old woman with the bat wings and money bags; Pride in a red dress with the yoke, from which she was released; Vanity, admiring his reflection in the round mirror. Associated Justice at the feet of the tyrant. Another group of vices are on the left. The Cruelty throwing snake for the baby, Betrayal, kneeling at which the lamb with the tail of a Scorpion, Deception with bat wings, holding a scepter. To the right of the Tyrant: Fury in the image of the centaur with the head of a wild boar with a dagger in his right hand, Discord, sharing agreement by saw, a War with shield and sword in hand. It is no coincidence that Vasari believed that Lorenzetti "was more reminiscent of a gentleman and a philosopher than an artist..."

10. Facciatone

Duomo di Siena, 53100, Siena, Italy +39 0577 283048
Excellent
63%
Good
27%
Satisfactory
7%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 519 reviews

Facciatone

Reviewed By Titus D - Sri Lanka

The tower is just a very short walk to the side of the Cathedral. This was included in our multi ticket. The hike up the very narrow stairs and there was no one seem to come down the same stairs but the effort of getting up there was so worth it. It is well worth the 12 euros per person to visit (which also include the visit the other main attractions around the Duomo). It isn't suitable for people with mobility issues or the unfit.
We timed it for dusk and got some gorgeous views of the city and the hills beyond. Wonderful, highly recommended if not afraid of heights or confined spaces.
As you leave there is a small museum which has some nice pieces of art and it is advisable to have a look around and the Church (San Niccolo in Sasso) you come out through is beautiful as well.
This tower provides excellent views over Siena. You can even see parts of the Campo. After ascending through the museum area, you then must walk up a few flights to the outdoor walkway of the tower.
After the climb you return to the museum which is interesting and well laid out. A MUST. We loved to see the history of Siena in such beautiful surroundings, a must.
Our wait to ascend was about 10 minutes. The stair are narrow and go up in a spiral. It took less than 10 minutes to get all the way to the top. Once on top we had a limited amount of time to admire the view and take pictures. The views are simply amazing. A must see when in Siena.
The stair way is of course narrow and spiral like most cathedrals, but worth every step.The 360 degrees view of the city is great. I recommend to get up there and see this view.

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