When I start working with a new trip planning client, I always ask why they want to go to Italy. A recent response inspired today’s post.
We want to see amazing museums, historic churches and squares, small atmospheric medieval streets, and a beautiful countryside with charming towns. We love food and wine, and I’m learning some Italian so I’d love to practice.
I thought a week in and around Siena, Tuscany would be a perfect fit for this client. Here’s what I recommended they – and you – should see and do.
Start in Siena’s main square, or Campo, home of the famous yearly Palio horse race. Sit in one of the cafés alongside the Campo and people-watch, admire the big fountain (an exact copy of) the Fonte Gaia with reliefs by Jacopo della Quercia (the original fountain is on display in Santa Maria della Scala). And notice the pavement design: very carefully considered, a shell-shaped space with nine spokes to represent the government, Il Nove (The Nine), who ruled at the height of Siena’s glory.
Start by stepping back to look at the façade. While my husband was taking the photo above, I was getting bored and decided to sketch the cathedral. Then a bride and groom emerged from the church, providing husband-photographer with a new subject, and giving me more time for my sketch. I probably spent
at least 30 minutes trying to reproduce the cathedral on paper, and yet I was still surprised to find out that the lower part of the façade was done by Giovanni Pisano, and the upper part was done by someone else, at a later date.
Tavolette of Biccherna: Even the government’s account books were decorated with incredible art: the 103 Tavolette of Biccherna, done by the most famous artists of the time, were covers for the governmental 13th- to 17th-century accounting books.
Spend a day or two in Siena and a few days exploring the countryside. Do a wine tour, and consider visiting Monteriggioni, Montepulciano, Pienza, San Gimignano, and of course, Florence. If you’re there in the spring or early summer, you may even stumble upon a field of poppies or sunflowers.
Photo by Sanjay
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