It takes one visit to Siena to realize how true this is. Siena, a UNESCO world heritage site since 1995, with its medieval walls, wide squares, towers and age-old buildings is a timeless gem. Our tour begins in a truly special location: a historic seventeenth-century building, home to Grand Hotel Continental - Starhotels Collezione.
The hotel, set among the city’s medieval sandstone-paved streets, is located along the so-called Corso Senese, on via Banchi di Sopra: the city’s main street, lined with shops offering local products, including the historic Pasticceria Nannini at number 24. The street is also home to the world’s oldest bank: Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena. A short walk and we reach Piazza del Campo: the shell-shaped square in the heart of the city, where twice a year (on July 2 and August 16) the Palio of Siena is held.
Palazzo Comunale and Fonte Gaia, located in Piazza del Campo, offer a breathtaking view of the square. For one of the most scenic views of the city, we recommend Torre del Mangia, a tower with 400 steps leading to the top. Take Via di Città to admire Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, a magnificent example of medieval architecture, which houses the Chigiana Music Academy. Stop at Antica Drogheria Manganelli to buy coffee, pepper and chocolate or at Antica Pizzicheria De Miccoli for panforte. Continuing on, you will reach Piazza del Duomo, which houses the Opera del Duomo Museum and the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta.
Here you will be able to admire the Cathedral’s amazing flooring and works of art by artists of the caliber of Bernini, Donatello, Michelangelo and Pinturicchio. Another must-see?
La Porta del Cielo (The Gate of Heaven), the newly opened roof space where you get beautiful views of both within and outside the cathedral. And now, let’s go shopping and when it comes to shopping Siena has some true “institutions”: Cortecci- a clothing and accessory shop dating back to 1935, with two branches downtown Siena, in Banchi di Sopra and Piazza del Campo, and Dolce Trame, the go-to place for more innovative and creative fashion brands. It’s time for a meal stop, so let’s head straight to the downtown restaurants where we are sure to find some delicious local and traditional food: Porri-One, Enoteca I Terzi, Le Logge, Antica Osteria Da Divo. The choice is yours!