Siena, like other hill towns in Tuscany dates back to the 900-400 BC, during Etruscan times.
According to local tells, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, sons of Remus, supposeddely after their father was murdered by his own brother Romulus in Rome. They run away from Rome. So, some legends say Siena comes from the Etruscan family Saina, while other clain it comes from Senius, and others clain it comes from the Roman family Saenii. Who knows for sure? One thing is for sure tough, Siena is beautiful.
Siena was a republic for more than 400 years, until 1555 when it was defeated by Florence in alliance with Spain, in April 17 1555.
After descending from the bus, we walked for some time to get to the historical center. The tour in Siena was a mix of a guided tour and free time. It started at Piazza Salimbeni, where our guide took the time to explain to us the origin of Siena, the meaning of the surrounding buildings and how the tour would work. From there we would go to Piazza del Campo and Siena Duomo, after which we would have 90min to walk around Siena before departing back to Florence.
Piazza Salimbeni is a small rectangular square with three buildings: Palazzo Salimbeni housing the headquarters of Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. It is a bank with more than 500 years, created in 1624. Initially, Palazzo Salimbeni was the home of the powerful Salimbeni family.
Another building is the Palazzo Spannocchi, built in 1470. The cornice of the facade is decorated with sculpted busts of Roman Emperors, as well as Dante and da Vinci. Opposite is Palazzo Cantucci, built in 1548.
Directly behind Piazza del Campo is a beautiful loggia – Loggia della Mercanzia at Croce del Travaglio – the junction of the three main streets of Siena: Banchi di Sopra, Banchi di Sotto and Via di Città.
After Piazza del Campo we headed to the Duomo, that lies in a large piazza just above Piazza del Campo. On the way there we passed by the Church of San Cristoforo, a Roman Catholic church in Piazza Tolomei, dating back from the 11th to 12th-century.
The Siena Duomo, is a masterpiece dating back from the 12th century, in a Romanesque-Gothic style. It was intended to be the largest basilica in the world but lack of funds made the sienese abandon their plans and stick with a smaller version. The east wall of the abandoned original folly of a nave still stands there. The exterior of the cathedral is totally impressive but believe me, contrary to Florence where I was a bit underwhelmed by the inside of the Duomo, here in Siena it is the opposite. It is just something difficultto to describe, such a beauty it is. You will really don’t know where to look. Everywhere you look, art, color, are present in the most impressive way possible. The Sacristy and Piccolomini library have well preserved frescos by Ghirlandaio and Pinturicchio, and the Baptistery by Donatello, Ghiberti, and others.
The Library itself was built by his nephew (in memory of his uncle and to conserve a rich collection of manuscripts), also a cardinal and who would later be elected Pope and became Pope Pius III.
After leaving the Duomo, it was now time to free walk, and admire the beauty of Siena.
Siena is a city full of charming roads and beautiful buildings, and like other cities I visited, that exhudes history, architecture, poetry. It is worth posting pictures of my walking around as all details were worth seeing.
After gathering again at Piazza Salimbeni, it was time to leave Siena and head back to Florence. A beautiful sunset gave me the last image of a beautiful and serene Siena, worth the tour.