I am frequently asked to write articles on travel, which I enjoy because it allows me to relive memories of some of the wonderful places I have visited in the past. I love Italy in general and Siena in particular and below is a sample of a brief article written about this magical place.
Siena travel guide
Little more than an hour’s drive from Florence lies the captivating little oasis that is Siena. Seated in the true heart of Tuscany, this beautiful mediaeval city, now a UNESCO World heritage Site, beckons visitors within its protective walls in order to weave a spell of enchantment with its charms. Its narrow streets are made for walking, not driving (in fact cars are not allowed within the centre) and for losing oneself in time as well as place.
Siena dwells heavily in the past and it is a past steeped in tradition, as a wander through the warren of narrow lanes and cobbled alleys will reveal. The numerous museums and galleries recount Siena’s past Gothic glories and, for those with a taste for the macabre, grisly instruments of torture can be viewed at the Museo della Tortura, while the mummified head of St Catherine (which was separated from the rest of her remains and smuggled out of Rome) resides in the Basilica di San Domenico.
Twice yearly the Palio, or bareback horse race takes place, in which 10 riders display their equestrian prowess around Il Campo. There are also several places in which you can learn to make (and then eat) traditional Tuscan cuisine or you can snack on local peasant fare of stuffed and deep fried olives, prepared by cheery street vendors. Alternatively, you may choose to sit out in the cool shade of open air cafes surrounding the Campo, Siena’s shell-shaped central piazza, as you watch Siena life buzz by.
A visit to the Gothic cathedral, Il Duomo, Siena’s artistic and architectural masterpiece, with its inlaid marble floors, all frescoes and painted windows and crammed with fascinating history is a must-do; while an ascent up the spiral steps of Torre del Mangia, a mediaeval bell tower, is equally advisable. This affords a 360° view across the tightly-packed ochre rooftops of the city and out across the vineyards and rolling fields of olive and lemon groves, stretching out as far as the eye can see into this dreamy landscape which is true Tuscany.