The Classic Beauty of Tuscany
Most people know the “package” destinations of Italy: Venice, Florence and Rome, usually visiting in that order. It's incredibly easy on Le Frecce, hopping from one bellissima city to another in two hours or so. And absolutely, everyone should visit these storied destinations, but with just one extra day, oh, the things you could see. Siena is one of those slightly “off-the-beaten-path” destinations you could be visiting – if only for a day. Just a short, 90-minute train ride from Florence, Siena is one of those picture-perfect medieval walled cities that you read about in guidebooks and hope to visit. Now is your chance.
The train station in Siena is right outside the city walls, and is approximately a 15-minute walk. The walk is steep at times, so if you're planning on staying the night and have luggage, hop into a taxi or bus right outside the station.
Siena is a classic, Tuscan town – hilly, with narrow streets to wander and get lost in. Which is why you'll want to get a map before taking on this maze of a city. Wander away without worrying about cars as on many streets they are forbidden. With so few flat streets, get on your comfy walking shoes – it's time to get to the main piazza that lies on a slope.
The Piazza del Campo (also known as Il Campo) is paved with brick and surrounded by cafes, restaurants and historic buildings, and is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. It's also home to the city's famed Palio, a horse race held twice a year in which ten horses and riders represent ten of the 17 Contrade, or city wards. Beforehand, there's a magnificent costume parade that draws spectators from around the world.
The Palazzo Pubblico, is Siena's Gothic town hall building next to the bell tower, the Torre del Mangia. Standing 335 feet tall, it's the second highest bell tower in Italy. You'll be thankful for those comfortable shoes should you want to climb the tower's 505 steps for a magnificent view of the Tuscan hillside.
Siena is a city of intense beauty. When the sun sets on the red rooftops, a warm glow shines down on the cobbled streets. At night, after the day-trippers go home, you'll have the place to yourself (ok, to share with the locals) and discover the magic under the Tuscan moonlight.
There are plenty more sights to see here. But this is where you come to relax and live la dolce vita, before heading back to the cities where you frenetically try and see every artistic masterpiece.
With this glimpse of the good life, you may decide to stay and explore the rest of Tuscany with a Eurail Italy Rail ‘n Drive Pass. Spot a villa in need of TLC, and never leave. We hear it's been done before.
Contributed by: Angel, Regional Sales Director, he enjoys the scenic train routes in Europe, especially Switzerland