For anyone who has read my first post about my favourite country, you will know I am a huge fan of Italy. It is an amazing place with so much to see and do and the food and wine is pretty outstanding too. So I have been trying to find new places to add to my Italian bucketlist and thanks to Elle Goes Global, Siena is now one of them, here is her guide of what to do with 24 hours in Siena.
Siena, an Italian city of medieval architectural delights, vibrant streets and artisan boutiques. Most famously known for its magnificent clock tower and beautiful Piazza del Campo, Siena is an essential stop on any Tuscan itinerary, but if you are rushed for time here is a quick guide to what you can do in 24 hours in Siena.
Explore the sights
There are plenty of things for you to explore in Siena but if you are short on time, 24 hours gives you plenty of opportunity to check out my top sight suggestions.
Affectionally renowned to as ‘Il Campo’ by the locals, Piazza del Campo is a breath-takingly beautiful piazza that during my recent visit left me in total awe, I promise you won’t have seen anything like it before. Like many sights in Italy this Piazza has a rich history, built on the site of a Roman marketplace the paving is split into nine sectors to represent the members of Siena’s Consiglio. Here you will find a high concentration of cafes and bars although if you are on a budget it’s best to avoid eating here, but why not stop off for a gelato and busk in the glorious sunshine instead taking the time to admire your surroundings.
Siena’s majestic Duomo (cathedral) has an intricate white, green and marble façade emphasising key Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Two key things to note before you visit; book your tickets in advance to avoid the lengthy queues and women need to dress respectfully (covering knees and shoulders). The interior of the cathedral although less impressive than its exterior is still worth visiting; with bronze and marble masterpieces representing artists and notable figures in Siena’s history.
The third tallest tower in Italy, the Tower of Mangia looms 102 meters over the Piazza del Campo. Built from red brick and accentuated by white travertine it’s a real focal point that you can spot even miles away from Siena. This was the highlight of my trip in August 2018 and I’d thoroughly recommend you climbing all 400 steps to the top, because the views are incredible. Take your time as your climb and peek out of the narrow openings on the way up, you only have 15 minutes allocated at the top to admire the view before you have to head back down again, so make the most of every view you can. It’s worth being aware that the tower has very narrow stair ways so might not be everyones cup of tea.
Of course, no trip to Italy would be complete without indulging in some delightful food, from tasty pizzas to refreshing gelatos here are my top suggestions for you to check out during your visit.
Italy, the land of freshly baked pizza frankly you can’t go home without trying one but why would you even want to! If you are short on time why not pick up a slice from Belle Buon Pizza al Taglio and tuck into your tasty pizza whilst you wander through the cobbled streets. But for a more relaxed European approach to eating sit down at La Taverna di San Giuseppe where your taste buds will be delighted by authentic and traditional recipes including succulent steak dishes and home-made pasta.
No meal is complete without dessert, right? To get your Gelato fix, be sure to head to Gelateria Kopakabana. Opposed to ice cream, Gelato has no air pumped into it so its creamier with a more intense flavour and there are plenty of flavours for you to choose between. My boyfriend Chris and I like to share so then we get to enjoy double the flavours! I opted for a scoop of Nutella and White chocolate gelato whilst he picked a delightfully fruity raspberry and mango combination. Trust me during your 24 hours in Siena you will come across so many Gelato places that it’s likely you’ll end up enjoying more than one serving of this iced delicacy.
Traditional dishes to Siena that are worth trying during your visit include; Bruschetta served with tomatoes and herbs, pappardelle which is broad strips of freshly cooked pasta and Tangliata di Manzo (steak served rare with a pepper salad).
Thrilling festivals and events
When you first hear about Siena, I’m sure the Palio horse race is the one festival that people mention to you almost straight away. Ironically when I visited with my family back in 2009 we had no clue that the event was happening the exact same date as we were visiting, of course this was way back before travel blogs and social media became really influential in our travel plans.
But what is Palio?
Held twice a year on 2nd July and 16th August this bareback horse race lasts on average just 75 seconds so to say it’s a thrilling fast paced sporting event is a major understatement. Ten of the city’s seventeen districts compete, but this event isn’t a staged one purely for tourist enjoyment its origin dates back to 1644 all focused on winning to ensure your districts pride.
With an electric atmosphere it’s worth planning ahead if you’d like to watch the event, if you are limited for time though you have a few options. Visit four days before Palio takes place and you will find the Piazza del Campo transformed into a race track with yellow earth in place of the brick work or take the chance to watch the selection of the horses on June 29 and August 13. Choosing to visit on the actual date of the event does require thinking and planning ahead; take up a place in the cordoned-off area at the centre of the piazza (the earlier you turn up the better, aim for up to five hours before the race), book a seat on one of the stands you will need to buy tickets from bars, restaurants or admire the race from the balconies overlooking the square – it’s worth noting these two options are sold by locals so you will need to arrange this before you visit. But if you aren’t lucky enough to be there for the event specifically why not attend one of the festive open-air dinners with trestle tables running the length of the district streets your taste buds are in for a real treat!
Sadly, on both of the occasions that I’ve visited Tuscany I’ve missed out on Palio so it’s safe to say that it’s high on my travel Wishlist for the future!
If you have managed to attend Palio please do let us know in the comments, we’d love to hear about it and see your images. Above are just a few of my suggestions for how you could spend 24 hours in Siena, which aspect are you most tempted by?