On day 3 of our Tuscan road trip we visited the beautiful town of Siena, which was the fourth stop on our tour. Siena was one of the cities I was most excited to see on the trip so we had dedicated an entire day for it. After another hearty Italian breakfast at Castello di Casole, we hopped in our chariot (Corsa), got out or map (sat nav) and went in search of Siena. Based on my own experience, here’s how to spend a day in Siena…
The journey from Castello di Casole to Siena took no more than 40 minutes and we found a handy car park on the edge of the city at the Siena Football Stadium. From here we strolled into the centre of Siena on foot. We were without a map, so simply headed in the direction of the terracotta towers and spires we could see in the distance.
On the approach into the centre of Siena, we walked along a series of narrow winding streets that were lined with gelaterias, coffee shops and shops selling local food produce. As we got closer to the centre big brand names started to pop up and I realised that Siena was actually a lovely town for shopping as well as sight seeing.
Piazza del Campo
Signposts on almost every corner marked the way to the central Piazza del Campo, which should be the first stop for anyone deciding how to spend a day in Siena. The Piazza is one of the most famous medieval squares in Europe and dates all the way back to 1349. With its medieval stone, rich terracotta hues and unique sloping floor, it felt romantic, historic and epitomised old European charm.
As we arrived mid-morning we stopped for a coffee in one of the many al-fresco cafes that line the edge of the piazza. As with any tourist hot spot, the prices of these cafes are double what you’ll find around the corner, but they can get away with charging more because of their amazing location. I loved sitting in the sun doing a little people watching and taking in the atmosphere, so I was happy to pay €4.50 for one cappuccino.
Travelista Tip: If you’re on a budget, head to one of the side streets where you can pick up a pizza for €5.00 and coffee is under €2.00.
Torre del Mangia
The central focus of the Piazza del Campo is the Palazzo Pubblico, which sits centrally in front of the sloping amphitheater-style floor. Connected to it is the Torre del Mangia, a 400 step tower that is the place to go for the highest and best panoramic views of Siena.
After our coffee we went to buy our admission tickets for the tower from the ticket office located at the bottom of the tower in the piazza. The 400 step climb is an experience in itself as it includes climbing up the original stone spiral staircase that was built in 1338. Once at the top there are two viewing platforms, both with breathtaking views of the terracotta city.
From the top of the tower you can see the cathedral in all its glory, look down on the piazza and trace the old walls that surround the centre of the city. I would absolutely recommend climbing the tower to anyone visiting Siena and for under 10 euros a ticket, it’s an affordable, fun and very satisfying attraction.
Travelista Tip: The tower has set admission times every hour on the hour throughout the day. To save yourself some time and to avoid waiting in queues, try to arrive just about 10 minutes before the next admission time.
Pizza in the Piazza
It was day 3 of our trip and we still hadn’t had any Italian pizza yet, so after working up an appetite we picked a pizzeria for our lunch stop. The pizzeria was called La Birreria and was also located in the Piazza del Campo. I ordered a salami pizza with extra gorgonzola cheese. It was so delicious I couldn’t speak!
Siena Cathedral and Museum
After a long lunch we went in search of Siena’s cathedral, which was under a 10-minute walk from the Piazza. The cathedral is part of a complex which includes the Crypt, the Baptistery and the Museo dell’Opera, all of which are housed between the “Duomo Vecchio” (Old Cathedral) and the “Duomo Nuovo” (New Cathedral).
I would recommend setting at 2 hours aside if you want to visit both the whole complex. Unfortunately photography wasn’t allowed inside but the Cathedral is a magnificent sight from the outside.
Travelista Tip: You can get admission to everything on an all-inclusive OPA Si Pass which is only €12.00 per person and saves you 50% off the individual admission prices.
If you’re looking to pick up some amazing local food produce when in Italy, Siena is the place to do it. There are endless food shops selling local Italian produce such as pastas, biscotti, wines, Cointreau, chocolate, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and sauces. I loved looking looking around the shops and seeing all the weird and wonderful produce. I had never seen so many types of pasta! I picked up some extra virgin olive oil and a pack of almond biscotti to bring home with me.
What did you think of my day in Siena? Are you wondering how to spend a day in Siena? If you enjoyed this post I would love you to leave me a comment in the box below! Feel free to ask me anything. Jess x