The departure point is Piazza del Campo, the heart of the city. It is here that every 2nd July and 16th August that the Palio takes place: a horse race preceded by a splendid historic procession.
Stop in front of the Fonte Gaia which bought water to the centre of the city in 1346, after almost ten years of digging in order to create a “bottino”, a long underground barrel vaulted aqueduct.
Start with a visit to the Civic Museum in the Palazzo Pubblico, the imposing palace with its elegant tower, Torre del Mangia. The Palace, a symbol of the independence and wealth of Siena is one of the most important examples of civil Gothic architecture in the world and a treasure chest of works of art.
If you have the energy you may like to visit the Torre del Mangia (1325-1349): a climb of over 400 steps – the tower is 87 metres high – rewards you with a breathtaking view of the city and surrounding countryside.
the courtyard of the Palazzo Chigi Saracini, rich with history and home to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, one of the most prestigious music schools in the world. The building itself also deserves a visit.
To the right, in the piazza Jacopo della Quercia there are the remains of the “Duomo Nuovo” which the inhabitants of Siena tried to build before the 1348 plague but the soil gave way and they were forced abandon the project. The floor of the Duomo (entirely uncovered and visible from mid August until mid October) is a “picture Bible” with 56 inlaid marble squares produced between 1369 and 1547, based upon designs by great artists such as Matteo di Giovanni and Domenico Beccafumi.
In front of the Duomo we find the ancient Ospedale di
Santa Maria della Scala, one of the oldest hospitals
in Europe which sprung up along the Via Francigena to
give assistance to pilgrims making their way to Rome.
Today, Santa Maria is a museum complex which houses the Library and Photo Gallery of Giuliano Briganti, the Childrens’ Art Musuem, in addition to both temporary and permanent exhibitions. The basement rooms are home to the Museum of Archeology.