This street in Siena is best known for being an ideal location for passeggiata, a slow evening stroll common among locals. Upscale stores and shops line the road and draw many tourists for relaxing evenings of window shopping. Things are centered around the large retail anchor, Upim. Keep an eye out also for some great pastries, like the panforte at Nannini. This street is located near the Piazza del Campo.
The Piazza del Campo is a wonder of medieval construction in the heart of Siena. With the piazza's unique fishtail design constructed in rust colored brick and white stone, the square is a result of excellent city planning. The square was built at the point where the original three towns that made up the city of Siena met and every building built around the square had to meet city guidelines so there was a sense of harmony. The brick laid square is divided into nine sections that represent each of the city's 'governo dei nove' or ruling governors. From a height, the sections look like the folds of a cloak believed to represent Mother Mary's cloak, Siena's patron saint. Today, the square hosts the popular bi-annual Palio or horse race that draws in visitors by the thousands waiting to see the majestic spectacle of thundering hooves.
Once one of the tallest secular towers in medieval Italy, the Torre del Mangia looms over the Piazza del Campo with its clock face, brick shaft, and stone and marble loggia. The tower was named after its first bell-ringer, nicknamed mangiaguadagni, or ‘profit-eater,’ who was known to spend his earnings in local taverns. It is said that the part of the tower built in brick was a gesture toward the Italian commoner, while its height, which is the same as the city’s cathedral, was meant to signal that the adjacent town hall had power equal to the church. A climb to the top is rewarded with lovely views of the campo and Tuscan countryside.
The Museo di Storia Naturale dell’Accademia dei Fisiocritici is a great place to learn about the history of science in Siena. The academy after which the museum is named after was founded in 1691 and was one of the first of its kind in Europe. Visitors can examine a vast collection of terra-cotta models of mushrooms, check out a zoological exhibition of conserved marine mammals collected from the Tuscan coast, and explore an archive of hand-written documents about the history of the academy dating back to the 17th Century.
The Basilica of San Domenico, also known as Basilica Cateriniana, is named after the catholic mystic and theologian Saint Catherine of Siena, whose family home is located nearby. The church contains several of the saint’s relics, and her codex. Built by Dominicans on the hills of the Camporegio in the early 13th century, the church was expanded in the Gothic style two centuries later, and is one of the most popular among tourists in Siena. Pilgrims are drawn to pray in front the relics of Saint Catherine, who is one of the two patron saints of Italy along with Saint Francis of Assisi.
This is the third great building in the artistic and cultural triangle of Siena. It has been in use since the end of the 11th Century to aid the sick and the pilgrims that trod the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome, these pilgrims were referred to as "Romei". The various sections of the building really should be visited and the frescoes in the Pellegrino admired. Today, the building is open for visits and also houses museums and shops.
Fountains were particularly valued in fortified cities in the Middle Ages as were all things that aided survival during that period of war and bloodshed. The Branda fountain is certainly the oldest (late 12th Century); it is so old that even the days of the writer Bocaccio (1313-1375) it was considered to be ancient! The building is still there with its Guelph battlement.
Built as a votive offering at the end of the plague in 1348, in keeping with the faith of the time when medicine was scarce, this chapel has the appearance of an open loggia and it is decorated with statues. The two panels showing Arithmetic and Geometry are 19th- century copies as the originals were moved inside the building to preserve them from storms and fire.
Siena is a beautiful Medieval city that is known for its Gothic architecture. It won't be surprising then that its heart is the most popular tourist destination. The Historic Centre of Siena is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You will find beautiful structures from the 14th to the 16th Centuries as well as lovely public fountains. Some of the interesting sights are the Piazza del Campo, Siena Cathedral (Duomo), Museo Civico and Palazzo Sansedoni.
The Loggia dates from the early 15th Century and is a perfect example of the transition from late Gothic to Renaissance architecture. Sano di Matteo was responsible for the original design and the upper floors were added much later. The original section of the building is the one that merits attention, perfectly inserted in the medieval city. The pillars that support the three main arches are decorated with statues of saints by Vecchietta and Antonio Federighi. The latter also produced the marble bench in the right portico. On either side of the loggia are the entrances to the Piazza del Campo.
A trip to Siena would be incomplete without visiting the Fonte Gaia. Standing over one of the most iconic squares in the city this imposing yet beautiful fountain was built in honor of the bride of God, Virgin Mary. Erected in 1342, a rectangular basin that was entirely made of marble was added to the original structure in 1419 by the highly acclaimed Early Renaissance sculptor, Jacopo della Quercia. The fountain is flanked by a set of thick marble panels which were installed to preserve some of the structure's intricate inscriptions and hand carvings.