The main architectural masterpieces are concentrated in the capital, Siena. You can feel here the pride of the ancient romans who founded a military colony on the place of an Etruscan settlement. The famous she-wolf feeding Romulus and Remus is a trademark of the city. According to the legend, while escaping from their uncle, the sons of Remus, Askio and Senio, brought this image to the lands of Tuscany in memory of their lost motherland.
The city, founded on hills, mushroomed rapidly and started to compete with its neighbor, Florence. You can still feel the confrontation of the two centers. The spirit of struggle, not just with neighbors but also one with another, is probably a trait of Siena people. The most well-known holiday is Palio (a horse race among city districts).During the holiday, horses are ridden to the central square going down the Costarella dei Barbieri descent, passing the Cathedral. On the Postierla square, the animals are blessed at the “Eagle” fountain.
The city has kept not only the medieval traditions, but also the image of XIII—XIV centuries. The central square, Del Campo (Piazza del Campo), resembles a shell. It is divided into nine sections which spread out like a fan from the rising building of the town hall. The number nine is not mere chance; it represents the Council of the Nine, which is the government of the independent city-republic.
The 100-meter tower of Torre del Mangia dominates the Palace of the Commune, often called the Palazzo Publico. Distinctive, yet well-matched buildings are located around the square.
Palazzo Piccolomini, which was constructed in the style of the Florentine Renaissance, stands out against a great number of Siena palaces. The grand Cathedral is an example of Italian Gothic art, being close to a bell tower, which is decorated with alternating stripes of dark and white marble.
It is great that the Cathedral Square is really large, so you can enjoy the view of the whole church and take unforgettable pictures. It's worth spending your time on examining the famous encrusted floor of the Cathedral so that you can appreciate it at its value. The pattern is presented by geometrical ornaments and more than 50 episodes from famous biblical and literary works.
Right on this Square you can also find The Palace of the Archbishop (Palazzo Arciverscovile) and Santa Maria della Scalla Hospital (Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala) located on the right and left side of the Cathedral.
Sant'Agostino Church, San Domenico Basilica and San Francesco Dominican Abbey and Basilica are among the well-known city churches. But the main religious and sacred place is a house in Fontebranda district, where Caterina Benincasa was born. She was a Siena saint, who moved back the Holy See from Avignon to Rome, and became the patron saint of Italy. The Sanctuary of St. Catherine (Santuario Cateriniano) is located close to her house.
There are a number of city gates in Siena. The gates of Rome, decorated with two stone wolves, are the largest ones in the city. The Porta Cammolia gates welcome you with the phrase, once addressed to Ferdinando I de' Medici: “Even wider than her gates will Siena open to you her heart”.
Tourists who have been here, will certainly agree.
The Palio in Siena
A horse race, known all over the world as the Palio, is held twice a year in the Tuscan city of Siena. The Palio competition lasts eight days, from the 29th of June till the 2nd of July, and from the 13th of August till the 16th of August. The second of July and the sixteenth of August are the official dates of the feast.
Monuments of art in Tuscany
There are 453 museums and galleries in ten provinces of Tuscany which makes it the leader among other regions of Italy. Many museums have got archeological profile because of the Etruscans who assimilated with Romans. Both highly developed cultures left a great number of traces of their settlements.
Traveling to Tuscany with Kids
Tuscany is one of the most popular tourism centers of Europe. It attracts not only adults, but also little travelers. There are attractions here which will be interesting exactly for kids.