Siena, Italy - Stein Travel
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Siena is a popular holiday destination. The red-brown stone of this medieval city throngs around Italy's finest old square, the Piazza del Campo. As old as the square itself are the traditions reverberating off its pavements twice yearly during the Palio delle Contrade. It is Italy's most colourful festival with rehearsals, processions and pageantry leading up to the climactic bare-back horse race around the Piazza. It is taken very seriously as it provides an outlet to the fierce rivalries that have raged for centuries among the town's 17 medieval districts.

All of Siena's streets are a delight to explore while on holiday but some of its most notable landmarks include the Torre de Mangia, Palazzo Pubblico, the Duomo, Palazzo Piccolomini, Pinacoteca Nazionale and Museo dell'Opera. Torre del Mangia is the bell tower to the left of Palazzo Pubblico which stands at 330ft (102m), the second highest in Italy. It is named after the first bell ringer who was known for his infuriating idleness. The Palazzo Pubblico still serves as Siena's town hall although sections of it are open to the public.

The Palazzo Piccolomini, built in 1460 for the prosperous Piccolomini family, contains Sienese state archives and financial records. The Pinacoteca Nazionale gallery is noted for its collection of works by artists of the Siena School. Siena's spectacular Duomo is unsurpassed amongst Italy's churches, built in full Gothic style. The carved pulpit panels, by Nicola Pisano, are magnificent depictions from The Life of Christ. Many of the original statues on the church's façade are copies; the originals are in the Museo dell'Opera del Duomo.

Information & Facts


The official language of Italy is Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country.


The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM or bureaux de change. ATMs are widespread. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with ease in the large cities, not so in the smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities. Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates than casas de cambios.

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