Siena is one of the favorite destinations in Tuscany by foreigner tourists, however it is a place which always offers something new, a view never seen, an original itinerary, so many ancient traditions to rediscover and oddities unknown to most.
I booked a stay at the Hotel in Siena Palazzo Ravizza, a cozy accommodation located a few minutes walking from the shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the true heart of Siena.
If you are travelers who like to go beyond the most well-known routes, if you love to spend some time in less promoted activities and if your vacation doesn’t finish in the main square of the town, this post is for you.
I selected 5 things you may not know about Siena to entice you into starting a trip different from the usual to the town of Palio.
Walking the Via Francigena from Siena
In the last years the interest in slow tourism has increased in parallel to the valorization of pilgrimage routes such as the Via Francigena, the route traveled by Archbishop Sigeric the Serious in 79 days to go to Canterbury from Rome.
The Via Francigena now is a way to explore the beautiful landscape of Siena, walking along the signed path from Porta Camollia, in the center of the town, to the lesser known villages as Isola d’Arbia and sensational venues such like the Grancia di Cuna, a fortified granary, built in the Middle Ages.
Over the year there are various events dedicated to the Via Francigena as the Festival of Viandanza, an event dedicated to eco-sustainability and safeguard of the territory, and organized excursions in the area between Monteriggioni and Abbadia Isola, involving characters in medieval costume.
The Museum of Torture, a thrilling location
Near Piazza del Campo, at Vicolo del Bargello, there is a little known and really original museum, because it is dedicated to the instruments of torture: a collection of artifacts from the XVI to the XVIII century, and faithful reconstructions of rare objects from XIX and XX century. The Museum of Torture includes gadgets, weapons, vintage prints and paintings and represents a journey into the dark side of history; I suggest a visit to those who are not afraid of strong emotions.
Besides, with the same ticket, you can visit the similar museum in San Gimignano, recommended if the topic arouses your curiosity.
Siena as a movie set
The city of Contradas has kept intact the charm of the medieval village, so is an ideal set for cinema, not only for films with historical setting but also action and spy movies as 007 – Quantum of Solace, whose opening scenes are shot just in Siena. 14 cameras have been used to film the horse race of Palio, which introduces a fast-paced chase of the agent James Bond across the city’s rooftops, an original way to celebrate the beauty of a location unique in the world.
Cooking classes and wine tastings in the historic center
In my opinion if you wish to really know a place like Siena you have to try the typical local dishes and taste the DOC wines produced in the surrounding vineyards.
On vacation you could get round to join a cooking class, to learn the recipes of the most delicious Senese dishes: I recommend the Scuola di Cucina di Lella e Giulia, the first born in Siena, considered a landmark for Tuscan cuisine. The available cooking classes fulfill every kind of need (menus for singles, young couples menus, low-calorie cuisine, mini-course about the correct approach to wine tasting); I booked a course in advance to discover the secrets of this delightful cuisine with the help of an expert cook such as Lella.
A classy Enoteca in a Medici fortress
The XVI century fortress built by the Medici is now the house of Enoteca Italiana, an organization which promotes all the national wines, and allows knowing the history of all the DOC, DOCG and IGT wines produced in Italy by an interactive multimedia panel that provides all the necessary information. The Enoteca also features a wine bar, a restaurant and a wine shop; I recommend it as a last step if you want to buy precious bottles or taste wines with the help of renowned sommeliers.
These are my 5 suggestions about Siena, I hope you will enjoy your stay at this very typical Tuscan town!