Siena – that is a city I have been already last year to see St. Cathrine’s church but had no time to see the city in a proper way. So this time I took all my time to have a walk in the city and also the cathedral. This one has a great mosaic floor I knew and I wanted to see absolutely.
So already in the morning I arrived in Siena finding a parking place a little bit outside the walls without paying. A short walk doesn’t hurt and so I was ready to dive into history.
Walking in the historic part and World Heritage Site of UNESCO was not so different to all the other beautiful medieval cities I have been before. Small streets, high houses in Grey or sand colored stone.
I admired the ceilings of several buildings. Rich in color and pictures, so beautiful to look at. Sitting on the stairs in the Palazzo Chigi Saracini was like looking on life several hundreds of years ago as people came in, having a look, astonished by so much beauty at a ceiling and going away again.
The most famous place here in Siena is for sure the Piazza del Campo. It is here where twice a year the Palio of Siena is held. A horse race with ten horses and riders sitting bareback and dressed in historic dresses. The Palio is held on 2nd July and 16th August. So this summer I will try to see one. Must be a great event and emotion. Also, to see the corteo storico (pageant).
Sitting on the stairs in the sun of the Piazza del Campo I was thinking about history.
Siena is an ancient Etruscans city of 900 to 400 BC. They were highly civilized and had a lot of innovations. Romans came after them and founded Saena Julia on the hills of today Siena. Legends says that Senius, a son of Remus, founded the city. That is also a reason why they have the she-wolf in their emblem. The name anyway is coming from the Etruscan name Saina, then Roman name Saenii.
Under the Romans Siena was nothing than a point in the countryside. Only later under the Lombards Siena started to prosper. That came because having trade difficulties with the Byzantines the Lombards took more secure roads inward – through Siena. Pilgrims on their way to Rome also made the city a prospering place.
Charlemagne was one of the most important inhabitants of Siena and Countess Matilda definitely one of the most important female figures in Sienese history. I walked (well, more driving) on her pilgrimage road days before in the Tosco-Emilian hills. After Matilda’s death, the republic of Siena was created.
400 years later the Black death stopped all prosperity and 200 years later in 1555 the city was defeated by Florence and surrendered to Spain, finishing definitely the republic of Siena. It was part of Tuscany until the unification of Italy in the mid 19th century.
Today the city is an important center for culture with a lot of events, arts, fashion and handcrafts.
The pigeons drinking water in the fountain in the Piazza full of humans and without any fear reminded me that it was time to eat and drink something before continuing to the big cathedral of Siena.
Walking through the streets (with nearly no traffic at all) I saw a lot of shops with handcrafts, ceramics, nice jewelry, great artists exposing their works and of course a lot of shops with Easter decorations. It was just a few days before this great feast, celebrated in whole Italy as one of the main religious events.
I am happy to have spent such a nice day in such a great city. Very impressive and definitely a lost if I wouldn’t have been here.
For further information:
Wesite about Siena