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Spotlight on Siena: What to Do in this Italian City

With its gleaming redbrick center and massive medieval walls, Siena—founded, according to legend, by Remus’s son Senius—is as beautiful as it is historic. Treasures are to be found on its side streets as well as in its magnificent city center. An easy day trip from Florence, this small city is a great destination for anyone interested in history, beauty, art or good food—in other words, everyone. To help plan your trip, here's what to do in Siena.

Where to Eat

Osteria le Logge

Housed in a former pharmacy near Piazza del Campo, Osteria le Logge (above) offers two levels of seating; request a table in the ground-floor dining room, with its old cabinets lined with wine bottles. The big, open kitchen turns out largely traditional Tuscan dishes that emphasize seasonal ingredients, many grown right outside the city’s medieval walls. Among the highlights: autumn’s pumpkin-filled ravioli and the restaurant’s year-round signature malfatti all’ Osteria, yummy ricotta-and-spinach balls. 33 Via del Porrione; 39-0577-48-013

I Tre Cristi This romantic, high-end, fish-centric eatery provides a welcome respite from the plates of steak and pasta most visitors to Southern Tuscany come to expect. It has a wonderful, inventive tasting menu, as well as à la carte dishes like calamari eggplant Parmesan. Let the sommelier take care of the wine pairings, and don’t miss a tour of the original cellar in the vaulted basement. 17 Vicolo di Provenzano; 39-0577-755-163

Bar Il Palio Located in the center of Siena, Bar Il Palo is a great place to stop for a cocktail or caffè latte. Relax and enjoy the beauty of the history-rich surroundings while having a snack and a sip. 47 Piazza Il Campo; 39-0577-282-055

Antica Osteria da Divo Occupying a suite of ancient Etruscan rooms cut out of the soft volcanic rock, not far from the duomo and Piazza del Campo, this charming restaurant offers a sizable wine list and an imaginative, flavorful menu that changes seasonally to reflect the fresh ingredients available. Choose from Sienese staples like ravioli di cinghiale (wild boar ravioli) and bistecca alla fiorentina. 25 Via Franciosa; 39-0577-286-054

What to See & Do

Piazza del Campo

The Piazza del Campo is considered one of Italy’s greatest medieval squares. Also known as il Campo, the former marketplace has long been the social and civic center of the city. Twice a year it is the site of the Palio, Siena’s famous bareback horse race.

Museo Civico Inside the Palazzo Pubblico is the Museo Civico, Siena's most famous museum, containing some of the Sienese School’s most impressive and significant paintings, sculptures and frescoes. 1 Piazza del Campo; 39-0577-292-226

Duomo and Nuovo Duomo Siena’s duomo, built between 1215 and 1263, is one of Italy’s finest examples of Gothic architecture. Constructed inside and out of alternating stripes of white and green-black marble  (black and white being the symbolic colors of Siena), it has a marble mosaic floor, crafted by forty artists and artisans between the 14th and 16th centuries, that is just as stunning as the treasures by artists like Donatello and Pinturicchio that fill the space. On the eastern side of the cathedral are the remnants of the Nuovo Duomo, a planned addition that would have created one of Italy’s largest places of worship; conceived in 1339, it was left unrealized and incomplete because of the plague of 1348. 8 Piazza del Duomo; 39-0577-286-300

Enoteca Italiana Established to promote the country’s wines, the Enoteca Italiana is housed in the vaults of the Fortezza Medicea. It contains more than 1,500 wines from Tuscany and elsewhere in Italy, which can be sampled in the cellars or on the terrace and bought in the shop. 1 Piazza Libertà; 39-0577-228-811

Santa Maria della Scala Once a hospital, Santa Maria della Scala is now a cultural complex hosting several museums spread over four floors that take visitors on a tour through Siena’s history. Don’t miss the National Archaeological Museum and the Pilgrim’s Hall (Pellegrinaio), where a cycle of frescoes illustrates the hospital’s history. 1 Piazza del Duomo; 39-0577-534-511

Where to Shop

Dolci Trame

This upscale fashion boutique works with designers and offers unique, contemporary clothing, shoes and accessories. Peruse the racks for items from Isabel Marant and Martin Margiela, or try on some of the precious pieces from the jewelry line. 4 Via del Moro; 39-0577-461-68

Consorzio Agrario di Siena Founded in 1901, the Consorzio Agrario di Siena is a cooperative formed by the farmers of Siena and Arezzo to support the region’s agriculture and sell its products, including wine and olive oil. 9 Via G. Pianigiani; 39-0577-2301

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