More about Montaperti Hotel
Perfect accomodation in Chianti region
Hotel Montaperti is a four-star hotel and for a good reason. The location is easy to find south of Siena - just take the road S73/E78 to Perugia for just some kilometers, then at Casetta watch for Hotel Montaperti sign and take the small road to Arbia. Once there you will not want to leave, the rooms are fantastic, most original furniture and a five-star bathroom. Check out their website also! Parking is very large aside the hotel (some 15 cars), and over the road there is a huge parking - also of the hotel (space for more than 25 cars), illuminated at night - so the parking facilities are also exceptional. Four stars client service indeed, everything all right, I will definitely miss for not staying there but for one night. 110% recommended for staying while visiting Chianti region and Siena. This hotel has an outside pool, not big but it is a wonderful feature .. clear water and with a great view over the hills. I'm telling you, after a hot day (over 30 degrees celsius), from 8pm in this pool you are totally relaxed. The pool has a great system for being used all year round, having a cover system that comes and enclosing the pool, also some heating tubes to heat the air around, so I suppose you can really use the pool also in winter. Near the pool there is the sauna: one heat sauna (90 degrees) and one turkish sauna (steam sauna). The restaurant is also very classy, having an indoor hall and a terrace. The hotel offers wireless access to Internet - which is great for VT users travelling with their laptops :)
The famous Palio carriage :)
At 5 p.m. at the day of Palio, a corteo storico is passing through the town. It follows very strict rules as of the sequences of groups and costumes. But one of the highlights in this corteo is for sure the carriage where the palio (= the flag for the winner) is being shown to the crowd. Somewhere I have read that this carriage resembles the Fiorentino one which was taken as loot after the famous Battle of Montaperti was won by Senese troops. Such a carriage played an important role during the ancient battles; it was drawn by oxen and carried the standard of the respective town. And so the Palio carroccio is also drawn by four white oxen as part of the historical procession. The carriage is on display behind glass in the little road Via Casato di Sotto, which leads off south from the Campo. Thanks Claudio for pointing it out. Although it is clearly visible, I would have passed it otherwise....
More information about the corteo and the sequence can be found in Wikipedia’s article about Corteo Storico, Siena. At the bottom are several links to youtube videos which show parts of the corteo.
© Ingrid D., December 2010.
More than a horse race
"Siena A City Of Proud People"
Siena has been formed around three hills, which has lended itself to dividing up the city in three terzi (parts). It was a free city in the mid 12th century and the wealthy families of Siena began a major banking system which even had branches in other countries.
A small bit of the history of Siena.
Sienna in the Battle of 1240 defeated the Florentines at Montaperti. This battle coined the phrase “Remember Montaperti” which can even be heard today when the two cities meet in a sporting event.
Siena Univerisity was founded in 1203 and in the 13th and 14th centuries the art rivalled that of Florence.
The Black Death of 1348 caused Siena to never recover in its previous place of stature.
In 1554 Cosimo de Medici gathered a huge Florentine army and laid seige to Siena and after 18 months the city surrendered to Florence in 1555. Many well to do families then fled to nearby Montalcino for protection.
However, this was the end of the Siena Republic.
"You're Gonna Walk!"
If you want to know Siena, you are going to have to walk a lot. That is unless you have a vespa. Cars are not allowed.
It's a good walk up to the Duomo, and you will also want to adventure around and look at things. When you see my accompanying pages you will see how people rest their feet.
Good shoes are a must. Make sure they give you good support.
The Palio horse race is held on the 2nd of July and the 16th of August. There are also practice races held during the week before. Each neighborhood has its own rider and is supported with a great passion. It has happened that riders, who are not members of the neighborhood have been paid off to not win, and other underhanded situations occur. Not every neighborhood will race each year, so it is even more important to have an entry and to win.
This race is a major Italian television event. Tickets are difficult to obtain. It is also dangerous for both the horses and riders, deaths have occured.
The Real Queen of Tuscany
Siena was once as powerful as Florence, its biggest rival during the Middle Ages. Several battles were fought between the two cities, and Siena will always be remembered for crushing the Florentine army at the battle of Montaperti in 1260. After some very successful decades during which the city saw the emergence of the Sienese school of painting, the creation of the prestigious University of Siena and the completion of the city's magnificient duomo, Siena was badly hit by the black plague, which decimated its population, wealth and power. The city was then conquered by the Spanish in 1555, who eventually ceded it to Florence.
When Siena lost its independence, its development was largely impeded and the city sort of froze in time, which in hindsight is probably the best thing that could have happened to it! The rather unappealing urban and architectural development Florence was submitted to under the Medici didn't enter the walls of Siena. The hilly town is still characterized by lovely crooked streets, charming Medieval buildings, and something I would describe as a real Tuscan spirit. We only spent one day in Siena, which was barely enough to allow us to see the historic area's main sights and soak up the city's atmosphere. It's definitely a place I'd like to visit again!
"History of Siena"
According to legend Siena was founded by Senio, the son of Remus one of the two founders of Rome. The origin for the name of Siena, undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Italy and in the world, is still a matter of research. Some attribute it to the Etruscan family of the Saina, some to the Roman family of the Saenii. It is certain that its development only took off in the Middle Ages, when it expanded towards three nucleuses which later became known as the "tertiary ": the original city center, San Martino and Camollia.
A Ghibelline city, Siena often crossed swords with the Florentine Guelfs in epic and cruel battles that forged the history of medieval Italy. One of the most famous battles was Montaperti on 4 September 1260, when the Sienese routed the Florentines. The city reached its peak of splendor in the 1300’s, when most of the civic monuments were built and the construction of the monumental new Duomo, or church, was attempted. In 1348, however, Siena was laid low by the Black Death, which like an earthquake exterminated three fifths of the population. After a period of obscurity and alternating domination by other powers, in 1559 Siena became part of the grand duchy of Tuscany, effectively losing its own independence.
Siena may be the best-preserved medieval city in Italy, thanks to its conquest by Florence nearly 500 years ago. While the Florentines were busy launching the Renaissance, the Senese played the role of country cousins--and as a result, Siena (or at least the walled portion of the city) still looks much as it did in the Middle Ages.
With a population of less than 60,000, Siena contains 17 city-states, or contrada. The town where every stone has remained the same throughout the centuries, where one breathes an atmosphere not to be found elsewhere, because its people have kept the traditions of their forefathers, such as those connected with the Festa del Palio, renewing them year by year with unswerving effort and enthusiasm.
Porta Pispini, Siena's gate to the east.
The facciatone seen from the Piazza del Duomo
View of Palazzo Pubblico
Stuffed chicken neck
Motor scooter hire in Northern Italy
I am planning a trip to Italy in April 2011 and would like to know what the average price is for motorcycle or motor-scooter hire is per day? I am planning to rent motor-scooters/cycles in the cities of Bologna, Siena and Florence. Please advise.
Re: Motor scooter hire in Northern Italy
Well, there's this: http://www.noleggiomototoscana.it/rent/eng/vespa-and-scooter
Also if you google 'vespa hire italy' a whole load of sites come up. I assume it's a vespa you are after, not a motorbike.cycle?