When you visit Florence, not only will you be privileged to be in one of the most art- and culture-fuelled cities in Europe, it can also serve as the ideal base from which to get out and explore the surrounding Tuscany region. There are plenty of day trips from Florence to choose from, but one of the most popular is to the hilltop city of Siena, which is just over an hour away by road. |
Here are some fast facts to prepare you for a visit.
It’s UNESCO Protected
The entire centre of Siena comes under the protection of UNESCO, as a World Heritage Site. Designated in 1995, the city has been recognised for its magnificently preserved medieval culture and architecture. It has numerous historic monuments and structures that are considered among the most important in the country, including its Duomo, the Palazzo Pubblico, Palazzo Sansedoni and the iconic Torre del Mangia.
The World’s Oldest Bank…
It’s a fairly impressive claim to be the home of the world’s oldest bank, but that’s exactly what Monte Dei Paschi is. Situated on Via Vallerozzi, it has been in business since its founding in 1472, although back then it started out as a pawn agency. It’s come a long way since those humble beginnings, and throughout its long history has become intrinsically entwined with the economics of not just Italy, but also the rest of the world.
…and One of Europe’s Oldest Universities
Continuing the theme, the city is also home to the 750-year-old Università degli Studi di Siena, which today is renowned for its prestigious schools of Economics, Law, Management and Medicine. Some of its most notable alumni include Pope Julius III, Pope John XXII and political scientist Jean Blondel.
The World’s Craziest Horse Race
Of course that claim is entirely subjective, but anyone who’s attended the famous Palio, held twice annually, will certainly not forget the experience in a hurry! The races (which take place in July and August) are the most important events of the year and encompass many hundreds of years of tradition – dating back to at least the sixth century. Each of the 17 ‘contradas’ (districts) of the city has a horse and rider to represent them and vie for the honour of victory. The race takes place around the main square, the Piazza del Campo, the centre of which is packed tightly with spectators, adding to the thrills and creating an atmosphere that’s nothing short of electric.
The Three Hills
Tuscany is dotted with hilltop towns and cities of varying sizes, but Siena is actually built over three hills. Set in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape of vineyards and olive groves, the city is spread over the hills and linked by steep steps, long, winding alleyways and secret tiny ‘shortcut’ streets known only to locals.
Memorable Day Trips from Florence
When you’re in Florence, it can be tempting to spend every hour of every day exploring the wealth of art, history and culture that abounds in this wonderful city, but you shouldn’t neglect the surrounding areas as well. Day trips from Florence, to places like Siena, Pisa and San Gimignano, will take you out into the stunning Tuscan countryside to discover just how much more there is to this magnificent region.
Mauro Bramante is the Director of WalkAbout Florence, an independent business offering unforgettable tours and excursions around Italy including the best day trips from Florence. Whether you want to ride a Vintage Vespa, try the famous Chianti wine or get cooking with fresh local ingredients, Mauro`s company promises excitement, adventure and above all, fun. If you`re keen to experience the magic of Italy with the help of some passionate and knowledgeable tour guides, look no further than WalkAbout Florence for your next getaway.
Related Articles -
Day, trips, from, Florence,