Things to Do
Siena puts you within easy sipping distance of Tuscany’s famous red wines. Stop for a tasting of Chianti Classico, one of Italy’s earliest wine exports. The vineyards of Montepulciano make Vino Nobile, a dry, full-bodied red. While the warm climate in Montalcino is ideal for Brunello di Montalcino. Meaning ‘little dark one’, this much revered wine owes its berry aroma and spicy, vanilla notes to Sangiovese grapes and four years of aging in oak barrels.
The Middle Ages are literally alive and kicking in the middle of Siena on 2nd July and 16th August. Bareback horse riders representing Siena’s 17 Contrade districts compete in a traditional race around the 13th century Piazza del Campo. Noise and colour fill the air, as crowds cheer on their heroes or berate the losers, as loudly as any football fans. At other times, Siena is perfect for simply relaxing with a coffee and camera in one of its many bars and cafés.
Surrounded by its 1,000-year-old wall, Siena’s miraculously preserved Renaissance buildings give the impression of an open-air museum. Don’t miss the Duomo – with its mosaic-decorated floor panels and sumptuously detailed frescos, it’s one of the finest examples of Romanesque-Gothic cathedrals. And if you have the energy to climb 400 steps to the top of the Torre del Mangia, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking panorama of the city and surrounding countryside.