Saturday, 4 July 2015

Siena, made for travellers. February 21st - 22nd

Palazzo Pubblico - town hall in piazza del Campo
Siena is the Palio and the Palio is Siena. the first of the two most famous horse races in the world took place yesterday, July 2nd, as it has been for centuries, being the Palio di Siena the oldest continually hold festival ever. 

i visited the city back in february and it has been thrilling to see the shell shaped square called Il Campo where all the attention of Siena's citizens is focused, at least for 2 minutes and a half per year. 
piazza del Campo - where the Palio takes place. Palio di Siena is the world’s oldest continually hold festival
although, if the bond between the city and her horse race is world wide known, what i was completely unaware of until my recent (and first) visit was Siena's link with travelling culture.

Siena lies on the path of the Via Francigena, an ancient road and pilgrim route running from Canterbury to Rome, passing through England, France, Switzerland and Italy.
in 998, Sigeric, the archibishop of Canterbury, walk through it, writing a diary that is probably the first travel diary in history.

Siena - highlights of the city and path of the via francigena route 

Siena is one of the few urban segments of the Via Francigena. Cor magis tibi Sena Pandit is the motto written on the enthrance arch of Porta Camollia, one of the gates of the old town. it means that Siena opens up its heart even more than this door. that was the first greeting to pilgrims and travellers.

being a pilgrim on the 1700 km of the Via Francigena was no piece of cake. they used to make their will and put their affairs in order before leaving. their what-to-bring list consisted in a rough hooded robe, a walking stick with knob, a saddlebag and a broad-brimmed hat.

duomo Santa Maria Assunta

around 1090 was founded in Siena one of the first hospitals of Europe, Santa Maria della Scala {Holy Mary of the staircase}, dedicated to caring for abandoned children, the poor, the sick, and also to accomodate pilgrims and travellers.

today, Santa Maria della Scala is a great museum.

duomo Maria Assunta
hospices, abbeys, churches rised throughout all the Via Francigena path, including Siena.
the pilgrim road was the keystone for the city's enrichment. "Figlia della Strada", road's daughter, it was called. along the way spices and precious fabrics came from France. Siena prospered as a trading post like never before. in 1288 there were 90 hotels in city.

streed food: carnival frittelle

street food: carnival frittelle
Siena in the contemporary age may have lost the leading  role of wealthy merchant and pilgrim's shelter that it had, but it doesn't mean that the city does not know how to make a traveler feel welcomed. i would say quite the opposite. 

do you want to give it a try? check out the siena francigena journey here {italian only}or let the curiosity guide you through the discovering of the city. it knows how to treat you right!

the duomo fa├žade mirrored on Santa Maria della Scala's window - Museo di Contrada in a tiny alley 

one last tip: grab a bite at Te Ke Voi, the local {and gourmet} answer to fast food. and if you're as lucky as i was, visiting Siena in wintertime, there is a delicious frittelle stall in piazza del Campo.

Te Ke Voi
Vicolo San Pietro, 53100
Siena, Italia

0577 40139


  1. I was only in Assisi and even it was a beautiful place I felt it's quite loud.
    But Siena seems to be so calm and peaceful.

    1. you're right, Assisi is often crowded, expecially during summer. it might be worth visiting off season.
      Siena is definitely bigger, and i visited in february. i bet during the Palio it's going to be pure madness ;)

  2. Very useful post. This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. Really its great article. Keep it up. Jeftine zrakoplovne karte


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