Siena Travel Blog› entry 6 of 11 › view all entries
Leaving Florence today,we head into the Tuscan countryside to our next base in a beautiful Agro Turismo close to Sienna. Everything we consume here is home grown. Bacon,beef,olive oil and even the wine. After checking out are rooms we board our mini bus and head into Sienna. We are free to wander as we choose but agree to meet up with the rest of the group for lunch in a recommended restaurant just outside of the city.
A small city of 60,000 people in Sienna, has been called "the manageable Florence." Siena's many fans point out that it has all the good aspects of its more famous neighbor ,art, the architecture, the history, and the food ,with less of the bad , heavy traffic, heavy tourism, and souvenir stands on every corner.
Siena was a bustling economic center in the Middle Ages, based on its textiles, saffron and wine. In the 14th century, it was the home of St. Catherine, an outspoken and politically active Dominican who experienced a "mystic marriage" with Christ and was one of the first women to be named a Doctor of the Church. Today, Catholic pilgrims to Siena pray at the Shrine of St Catherine and receive mass in the Duomo, and all visitors enjoy the cafe-lined Il Campo.
Legend says that Siena was founded by Senio and Ascanio, sons of Remus, of the famous duo Romulus and Remus who founded Rome. Statues of the wolf feeding the twins are spotted throughout Siena. The Romans established a military outpost in 30AD , and it developed into a busy trading post in the Roman Empire years.
The Lombards arrived in 6th century AD, and the Franks also had an input in the governing of the city. Great works were carried out, the most important being the Via Francigena, the road which linked Rome to France, used by pilgrims and travellers; this greatly increased Siena's importance. During this time the Church was actively involved in governing the city, especially between the 9th and 11th centuries, after which the Sienese people claimed their right to govern and administer the city.
Nowadays famous for its horse races around the Il Campo,one in July and one in August.The Palio of Siena.Siena is divided into 17 contrade, or areas. The Sienese people belong first to a contrada and then to the city. Each contrada competes against one another in the Palio, and rivalry and competition are an integral part of the preceding months before the event. Ten contrade are selected for each race, each contrada is assigned a horse, and the horses compete in la corsa of Piazza del Campo while thousands of people come as spectators and participants, transforming the main piazza into a teeming sea of people.
Not quite as busy today but lots of tourists here.Many enjoying an ice cream that the region is famous for.