Day Trip to Siena, Italy

While I was staying in Florence I took a day trip to nearby Siena. You can get there easily by the SITA bus, the Florence bus station is across the street from the main train station. Depending on whether it’s an express or not, it’s around a 75-90 minute trip that’s about €15 round trip. The schedules vary by day of the week, I was going on a Sunday where bus times differ and got to Siena around 11:30am.

Had some nice views as I started walking through the city.
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My first stop was to the art museum Pinacoteca Nazionale. It closes at 12:45 on Sundays so figured I’d check it out first. I thought it was okay, but didn’t blow me away. But at €4 it was worth a quick walk through. I was only there about 45 minutes. It has a lot of older Italian religious art, the gold style. I’d already seen a lot of that type of art in Italy so far. I get that the Sienese style has it’s different versions, but overall I thought it was okay. There were some interesting pieces on the second floor. Anyway, worth a visit if you have the time, but I wouldn’t go out of my way for it.

You can get a nice view there when you go up a tall stairway that goes to an outdoor area.

View from the Pinacoteca Nazionale
View from the Pinacoteca Nazionale

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After that I went walking around on my way to lunch where I decided to go to Ri Me. I had stuffed pumpkin blossoms with cheese as an appetizer followed by a vegetable lasagna with a glass of rubbicolo and some sparkling water.

The appetizer was delicious. Very nice flavor with the soft cheese filling. I was hoping there’d be a bit more pumpkin to the blossoms but it was very good. The lasagna was tasty, I had assumed I’d be getting something saucier, but it was nice with thin slightly crispy noodles and a copious amount of spinach.

I finished the meal off with ‘un cafe’, an espresso, and it was quite excellent! One of the better coffees I’ve had in Italy, with great flavor texture, and body.

Stuffed pumpkin blossoms
Stuffed pumpkin blossoms
Vegetable lasagna
Vegetable lasagna
Excellent espresso
Excellent espresso

Afterwards I walked over to the main square, the Piazza del Campo. It’s quite a hilly city. The main square is concave as it’s built right into the hill. Pretty cool, haven’t seen a town square quite like it before. And people just sit around on the ground of the incline and chill. Seems hard to call it a “square” but so it goes.

Twice a year there’s a horse race around in the Piazza del Campo where the place gets completed packed. It’s called the Palio di Siena and looks like it would be quite the event.

Piazza del Campo
Piazza del Campo

Next up was the Museo Civico which is right on the piazza inside the Palazzo Publico. I thought it was great, worth it for the palace, and there are some amazing frescoes. Not very big, but I thought it was definitely enjoyable.

Frescoes in one of the rooms.
Frescoes in one of the rooms.

Afterwards I walked up the hill to the Duomo. And wow did it impress! In addition to being striking, I thought it was pretty unique compared to some of the other cathedrals I’d seen so far. The striping was a cool look that continued inside.

Over the course of my day in Siena it went from overcast to rainy to clear skies, so I got photos in a variety of conditions in a short period of time, which is noticeable in some of the different photos.

Siena Duomo
Siena Duomo

I took a few photos while it was raining and the sun was shining through, pretty great time to be there:
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Heading inside the Duomo I bought the joint ticket that also includes the crypt, library, museum, and baptistery.

The Duomo itself I thought was really great. The striped columns and design throughout the interior I thought were very cool, like marvelous harlequin columns.

Inside the Duomo
Inside the Duomo
City seals in the floor
City seals in the floor

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Also inside the Duomo is the library, the Libreria Piccolomini . I thought this was one of the single coolest rooms that I saw in all of Italy. Truly astounding. Frescoes covering the wall and ceiling, massive books with beautiful illuminations that are all in great shape. Really an amazing room. The room is thought to be based on designs by Raphael.

Ceiling and some frescoes
Ceiling and some frescoes
More frescoes with book row below
More frescoes with book row below
Illumination from one of the books.
Illumination from one of the books.

I then went to the Crypt of the Duomo. It was cool seeing the remains of the old cathedral. The Baptistery was interesting to stop into as well.

The Museum at the Duomo had some nice art and also lets you get up to a Panoramic view location. Definitely glad I got the full ticket for all the Duomo sites.

View from atop the Duomo museum
View from atop the Duomo museum

After spending a good amount of time at the various parts of the Duomo, I went to get a gelato near there. The place that sounded best from looking online was la Vecchia Latteria Gelateria. This place was fantastic! Very highly recommended! This was some of the best gelato I had in all of Italy, perhaps slightly behind the place I went in Rome, but better than nearly every other gelato I had. If you’re in Siena, make a point of going.

Fantastic gelato!
Fantastic gelato!

After eating the gelato near the Duomo, I headed back to the Piazza del Campo and sat in the square relaxing until it was time to head over to take the bus back to Florence.

A great day trip. Very glad I took the time to go to Siena. I think it was fine as a day trip, though staying for one night would have been nice too, to find a place for dinner and then sit around the Piazza at night.

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