A step back in centuries: Siena

Art is certainly what has most influenced Siena, making it one of the most visited tourist city: Piazza del Campo, the Duomo, Palazzo Comunale and the Torre del Mangia attract visitors from around the world.  A simple walk through its narrow streets is a step back in centuries. Siena is also famous for wine and food, the Italian Wine Cellar, located in the Medici Fortress, has a selection of typical food and the ancient Sienese sweets, like ricciarelli, gingerbread, the copate and cavallucci.

Piazza del Campo.

Piazza del Campo

The square has always been the place where Sienese meet, the spot they have always considered to be the “showplace” of the city. Here is the centre of city life and government. One of the most important civic buildings in the Gothic style, the Palazzo Pubblico has always been the seat of government. Inside the Palace is the Civic Museum, that houses masterpieces like Simone Martini’s Maestà and his Guidoriccio da Fogliano, and The Effects of Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. An equally spectacular surprise awaits those who climb the 400 steps of the Torre del Mangia. From up there, your eye sweeps over the entire city, its towers, gates, narrow streets, and red brick houses

Piazza del Duomo

The Romanesque-Gothic cathedral of Siena dominates Piazza del Duomo. lf you are up to climbing 130 steps, you will be rewarded by the view from the Facciatone, or “big façade,” which would have been the front of the New Cathedral of Siena. Here is one of the highest points of the city, and all of Siena unfolds before your eyes. Another artistic jewel in this square is Santa Maria della Scala, one of the oldest hospitals in the world, and today an internationally famous cultural centre.

Il Mercato nel Campo

mercato in piazzaMore than 700 years ago the weekly market was held in the Piazza del Campo. A couple of years ago the Comune decided to evoke the ancient tradition organising a typical market in the suggestive Piazza. Every year in December the event take place. Visitors can taste and buy Pecorino, honey, Cinta Senese cold cuts and meats, saffron, vegetables and fruits. Leather, ceramic, antique furniture are also showed int he stalls. The market lasts for two days usually first week-end of December.

Il Palio – 2nd July and 16th August

palioDefinitely the best-known and most exciting traditional Italian festival and the only one to have taken place, without interruption, from the 14th century until today. Initially the Palio took place only on July 2nd, in honour of the Madonna di Provenzano, and was run through the city streets without any particular rules. In the 18th century, the race began to be held on August 16th as well, in honour of the Madonna of the Assumption, and rules were established which still apply today. The 17 quarters “Contrade” which Siena is divided into can enter for the Palio, but horses from only ten quarters, drawn by lot, actually race. There’s a magnificent procession in costume before the race featuring the famous flag-throwers from each contrada.

To book your villa near Siena contact Tuscan Views. 

The 2012 edition of the Giostra del Saracino

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This gallery contains 38 photos.

This year Sarteano celebrated 800th anniversary of Saint Francis’s stop by Sarteano (1212) and the 30th anniversary of the new edition of the Giostra del Saracino (the tradition was interrupted in 1962 and started again in 1982) with a special night Joust … Continue reading

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A medieval tournament not to be missed

Giostra del Saracino – Sarteano (SI)

I was 10 years old when I first went to the medieval joust Giostra del Saracino and I still remember fondly the colours and excitement of the people in the Piazza. 

It has since then become an annual “not to be missed” event for my family, especially because my father has been a Capitano (chief) and my husband a Cavaliere (knight) whose team won the re-enactment in 1999. The Saracen joust is a historical event dating back to the XV century, when mounted Knights fought the Saracen enemy.

In the past, Knights had evocative names such as “Moon Knight” and “Sun Knight” and modern-day celebrations see five contradas fighting “the enemy” for glory in this traditional  reenactment:

  • San Bartolomeo – white and purple
  • Sant’Andrea – blue and red
  • San Lorenzo – white and red
  • San Martino – blue and white
  • Santissima trinità – yellow and purple

The event starts with a medieval parade throughout the city centre whereby the mounted knights are introduced to the public. People follow the parade as it heads to the Piazza where the flag throwing games begin, and later, the Joust takes place.


During the summer, a lot of activities are centered around the Giostra. Every weekend from mid July onwards, you can enjoy the Festa della Contrada with music and food from each Contrada in the streets. A few days before the Giostra, a medieval banquet is organized in the castle with fire-eaters and jesters entertaining the guests. 

The “Tratta dei Bossoli” held in the main square on the 11 August decides the order of the Contrada during the Giostra.

The week-end following the 15th of August the winning Contrada celebrates the Palio with more festivities and sometimes fireworks!

If you are in the area around the 15th of August then these events are a must see – you’ll have a wonderful time and bring back not only amazing pictures, but very special memories too.