O Siena…. (singing at the tone of O Vienna by Ultravox… Remember that one? 🙂 Sorry, I couldn’t help myself but everytime I hear the name of Siena I start singing about Vienna… Call me weird…!
When we went to Tuscany we got about a zillion tips of people that had been there and so we heard many times that the ultimate city to visit was Florence. And maybe that is part of the reason we weren’t all that impressed, because the expectations where high. And yes, of course Florence is a beautiful city, but it is also really touristy and really busy and ridiculously overpriced. In comparison Siena is much smaller, less busy and has a better feel than the big city. More beautiful too.
Siena is mostly known for the horse race the de Palio (not to be confused with Paleo…:) that takes place every year on Piaza il Campo. The dates for the Palio vary every year so it wasn’t happening when we were there and while part of me would have loved to see the madness around that race, another part of me was quite happy it wasn’t that particular time. I would have maybe preferred Florence if it had been the case!
Can’t imagine what an event like that will do to a relatively small place like Siena. It was already hard to find a parking space and that is not uncommon in ancient cities. They are beautiful but not meant for cars. On the map of Siena they do clearly outline where you can park and there are a couple of parking garages but it is a search to find a spot.
An absolute must see in Siena is the beautiful cathedral di Santa Maria. And that is coming from someone who is totally not into buildings or stones in general! It is worth the price of the few euro for the admission ticket. In a lot of churches in Italy you are not allowed to take photos. I can understand the no flash policy but I find it a bit childish to ban photography all together. I’m sure it is hard to control if someone is using flash or not, but it will be equally hard to control if someone is taking photos or not. Especially with the all present mobile camera’s these days.
But the good news is that you can take pictures in this cathedral on the inside. Always a challenge to shoot in a dark church but it is beautiful so worth your time.
We had lunch in a little Osteria in a sidestreet that was packed with locals. Always a good sign. We had to wait for a while to get our seat. The name of the Osteria was Il Ghibellino. And yes it was good but – we are getting spoiled in Italy – certainly not the best osteria we had been to.
Al in all we thought Siena was a gorgeous place to visit and I would have no trouble if I had to choose between Siena and Florence!