A tribute to the founder of Siena
Visitors might wonder why there are so many depictions of a she-wolf suckling two infants all over the city of Siena. This symbol is usually associated with Rome, since the two infants are believed to be Romulus and Remus, the twin brothers who founded the capital of Italy. However, legend has it that Siena was founded by Senius, the son of Remus. For this reason, the city of Siena is often represented by a wolf, something that can be seen in many Sienese art pieces, including the duomo's famous floor mosaics.
Volterra is perched high on a sheer, rocky plateau, proudly overlooking the lovely Tuscan landscape below. It is an ancient centre, famous for its Etruscan and Roman past, and filled with museums offering a glimpse of days gone by. The town is also famous for its alabaster, which is mined nearby.
It is located 53km north west of Siena and makes an easy day trip (or half day, combined with a visit to San Gimignano). We really enjoyed our visit to Volterra. It is a lot smaller and less 'touristy' than Siena, and just had a peaceful feel about it. A great place to relax and watch that beautiful Tuscan sunset.
For more information, check out my Volterra page.
The best pasticceria in Siena
This is apparently the oldest pasticceria in Siena - it's also the best! There's more than one branch in Siena. Loads of mini and bigger pastries and sweet things to choose from to accompany your coffee. Stand at the bar and enjoy! It's a popular place. The ricciarelli (little biscuits)
A glass of wine at the Piazza del Campo
Nothing is more pleasant than the following scenario: It's mid-afternoon, and you find yourself in the Piazza del Campo. Seat yourself at any one of the charming cafes. You don't even worry about the prices because you are in Siena having the most wonderful time. An elegantly-clad waiter comes over and asks you what you'd like. A glass of local wine perhaps? Of course, you're in Tuscany, home of amazing wines and why shouldn't you sample a glass or two. He winks and arrives back quickly with a bowl of superb plump olives.
As you wait for your drinks to arrive, you sit and watch the parade in front of you. There, in the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, locals walk their dogs or sit on the stairs to the church and chat; tourists snap snap snap every scene in sight; kids chase pigeons, street performers entertain passers-by. The sun begins to set and the backdrop to this enchanting scene turns from blue to pink to grey to orange and beyond.
Your drinks arrive and your bill discretely slipped under the ashtray. You take a sip - ah, there's nothing better. You finish your wine and maybe order another, of course you do, how can you get up and leave this charming experience. The eat more olives than you'd like - after all, you're probably saving yourself for a nice big dinner of divine Tuscan fare, but how can you stop, the olives are so delicious. The sun sets and the people continue to dazzle.
Such a simple act, of drinking a glass of wine in the Piazza del Campo, but so beautiful, and it's memories like this that stay with you forever.
Attend a mass in the duomo
Siena’s cathedral is very famous and crammed with visitors at almost any hour. In case you want to visit the cathedral as what it was once been built for – as a church – you should attend a mass. I once did it in Venezia’s Basilica San Marco and it was something very special. So I asked when mass would be held in Siena’s cathedral and went there on November 1st (All Saint’s Day, a holiday in Italy). As for Venezia, it was very special. In a way it was also good for improving my Italian. The mass was held in Italian but leaflets were available with the full text of the mass.
Mass times in the cathedral:
Weekdays (incl. Saturday): 9 and 10 a.m.,
Sundays and holidays: 8, 11 and 12:15 a.m.
(Admission is free of course duing times of mass).
Duomo on Google Maps