Every single Medieval town that I have been to has been completely different from the last. I love to visit them. I seek them out. There’s just something about strolling down the smallest cobblestone laid streets feeling like I’m trapped in a beautiful maze. I take in the various archways above my head, the colorful flowers adorning the teeny balconies with the laundry of the day drying on a clothesline..realizing how some people live such a simple life here.
This is Siena. I turn a corner and suddenly the most beautiful green, white and pink Italian marble church appears right before your eyes. This is the Siena Duomo.
Talk about intricate. Even my photographic memory can’t place every statue, tile, mosaic, design, or gargoyle if you paid me. From here, pick a street and (or look for a sign for Il Campo) get lost in the maze again – enjoy browsing the little shops or sitting down for a coffee and pastry. Eventually, make your way to what is considered the most beautiful square in all of Italy – Il Campo.
This giant square, sits almost like a bowl with buildings surrounding it on all sides in a circle. A burnt orangey-brown shade as far as the eye can see, with all all of the brick buildings and brick square. The whole towns main construction is in this burned brown brick color. Apparently, (adding another “n”) Crayola dubbed the “Burnt Sienna” crayon from the brown brick shade of Siena..so I have heard. Il Campo is the spot to hang out. People are spread out sitting all over, a lot of them enjoying their frittelle. We were lucky to get to experience these little fried balls of rice goodness, hollow on the inside and coated with sprinkles of sugar on the outside. They are a carnival treat offered from the beginning of the year until somewhere around late March or so. There is a wooden stand selling them in the Il Campo square, and you can tell they are popular among the locals.
Il Campo is most noted for the Palio horse race that happens right here in this square. The Sienese host this race twice a year. Different neighborhoods compete in a race around the square, riding bareback, while an upwards of ~40k people cram into the center of the square and surrounding side streets.
Siena is hilly, so it is wonderful exercise to counteract the frittelle and the pasta. This is Tuscany, so let’s not forget the incredible wine and foods you can get here. Siena is easy to reach by bus from Florence and is about an hour and 15 minute ride. It is the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of Florence for a couple of days.