Siena is the most cute picturesque cobble stone colorful pottery selling town in Tuscany. It is distinguished by its medieval brick buildings. The central square called the Piazza del campo is the site of the Palazzio public and the toree del mangia. Florence is a gorgeous city and yet when you venture out to areas like Siena and Sam Gimignano you really get to visit more authentic small towns that lack as much of a tourist presence and feel more like real life being done. This is a much less crowded picturesque Tuscany town than Florence. It is out in the country more as well in lush green fields and tree lined roads that feel magical. These are great day trips from Florence. Read my full blog post on exploring Florence here.
How to get there
Taking the Bus
Taking the bus is better than taking the train to Siena from Florence. This may be one of the only times it is true in Europe that it is better to take the bus than the train. The train station is located farther outside of the city in Siena. The bus company is called SITA. This company has buses between Florence and Siena. The meeting point in Florence for the bus is just across the street from the city’s main train station, Santa Maria Novella. Siena’s bus stop is at Piazza Gramsci, well inside the old city walls. The bus takes around 1.25 hours on the fast bus. Make sure you’re getting on the fast bus. Florence/Siena bus schedule can be found here. SITA buses leave Florence for Siena 2-3 times per hour starting at 06:45 and the last bus leaves Florence at 20:15. There are less buses run on weekends and during holidays which is good to be aware of for your timeline.
A bus ticket from Florence to Siena costs €6-7 .
Florence Bus Station (to Siena)
Siena Bus station (to Florence)
Taking the Train
Most of the time in Italy, taking the train is going to be way faster than taking the bus. This is not true between Florence and Siena. The train trip from Florence to Siena requires a train change in Empoli, and takes longer than the bus (around 2 hours). The train station is farther outside of the historic center than the bus station, which means a longer walk from the train to the pretty part of town than from the bus station. The reason to take the train is for the view. The countryside is gorgeous and it is an amazing way to see the Tuscany countryside. If you are not in a time crunch this is an experience in and of itself. This route is definitely way more beautiful and picturesque than the bus route. Trains from Florence to Siena leave Santa Maria Novella station once an hour. There is a direct train that requires no changes and it takes about 1.5 hours. The train station in Siena is about 2km from the center. There is a bus from the train station into the city center, that takes about five minutes, or it is a short walk. To take a bus from the train station into town, look for buses that go to the Piazza del Sale. The walk takes at least 20 minutes, if not more. A train ticket for the Florence-Siena route should be in the €10 (if you’re on the direct train).
Things to do
Piazza Del Campo & Pubblico Palace
This is the central square of Siena in the old historic district. It is a huge square that is essentially considered one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares. There are cafes dotting the square where you can sit and enjoy coffee and people watching in the lively square. The old brick palace is grand. This is a beautiful middle age townhall that is fun to explore. There are many paintings and sculptures because the town hall hosts the civic museum.
01/11 – 15/03 10.00 – 18.00 (ticket office closing at 5.15 pm)
16/03 – 31/10 10.00 – 19.00 (ticket office closing at 18.15)
Christmas: Museum closed
New Year’s Eve: 12.00 – 18.00
- WHOLE: € 9.00 without reservation – € 8.00 with
- REDUCED reservation : € 8.00 without reservation – € 7.50 with reservation
- (children aged 11 to 19, over 65, university student not enrolled in Sienese universities, categories affiliated, military and groups of more than 15 people
- EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS: € 4.50 without reservation – € 4.00 with reservation
- FAMILY TICKET (2 adults + children over 11 years) € 22.00
- FREE: residents in the Municipality of Siena, children under 11, public schools in Siena, accompanying teachers, group leaders (1 every 15), handicapped and journalists.
- BOOK TICKETS HERE!!!!!!!
Siena’s Duomo Cathedral
This is one of the most magnificent cathedrals in Italy. It is the Duomo of Siena that is 13th century marble facade. It is a gothic building filled with ancient mosaics and other antiquity treasures inside such as from the artist michaelangelo. The cathedral is white with a salmon pink coloring on the outside with surrounding cobblestones and the brick palace. This cathedral is beautiful and grand in the city square. The whole floor inside is covered in beautiful mosaics. This cathedral is a part of a monumental complex comprised of many historic buildings that can be toured including, Piccolomi library, gate of heaven, baptistry, crypt, museum and panorama. So in total this is a 7 part museum compelx.
1. Opa Si Pass
NOT INCLUSIVE OF THE PORTA DEL CIELO ROUTE
A single ticket that allows access to all the museum buildings of the complex.
With Opa Si Pass you will visit the Cathedral , one of the most beautiful cathedrals of Christianity. A treasure chest that contains artistic treasures from masters such as Nicola Pisano, Michelangelo, Donatello, Bernini . You can also admire the Piccolomini Libraryfrescoed by Pinturicchio and an exceptional floor with inlays and marble workmen.
With Opa Si Pass you will then have the opportunity to enter the Baptistery of San Giovanni to admire the splendid Baptismal Font , the highest expression of Renaissance sculpture, and descend into the Crypt where you can admire a grandiose pictorial cycle of the late thirteenth century.
You will also have free access to the Museo dell’Opera to enjoy some of the unmissable treasures of Italian art including the Majesty of Duccio di Buoninsegna , to finish the journey going up to the panoramic terrace of the Facciatone where you will face the most fascinating and unforgettable view of the city and of the Tuscan countryside.
The visit is completed with a 3D videomapping path under the Duomo of Siena. An immersive experience in the history, traditions and beauty of Siena.
27/06 – 31/07 18/08 – 28/10 € 15.00
01/03 – 26/06 01/08 – 13/08 29/10 – 31/10 26/12 – 06/01 € 13. 00
01 / 11-24 / 12 07 / 01-28 / 02 € 8.00
REDUCED (CHILDREN FROM 7 TO 11 YEARS)
01/01 – 31/12 € 2.00
- Children up to 6 years of age
- Residents born in the Municipality of Siena
- Accredited journalists
- Disabled with a guide
- Religious / e
- Students of the University of Siena and the University for Foreigners
- Parish groups of the Archdiocese of Siena with a letter from the parish priest
2. Porta del Cielo Pass
A SINGLE TICKET THAT ALLOWS ACCESS TO THE DUOMO ROOFS AND TO ALL THE MUSEUM BUILDINGS OF THE COMPLEX.
A SINGLE TICKET THAT ALLOWS ACCESS TO ALL MUSEUMS OF THE COMPLEX
With Porta del Cielo All Inclusive it will be possible to access the Duomo roofs in groups of up to 18 people accompanied by security personnel.
This formula will allow, not only to access the Gate of Heaven, but to complete the tour visiting all the other sites of the Museum Complex of the Duomo of Siena ( Cathedral and Library Piccolomini, Museum of the Metropolitan Opera and panorama from the Facciatone, Baptistery, Crypt, Under the Duomo ).
The ticket can be purchased directly at the ticket office. The tours to the Duomo roofs will start every half hour following the opening hours of the Cathedral.
01/03 – 07/01 € 20.00
REDUCED (CHILDREN FROM 7 TO 11 YEARS)
01/03 – 07/01 € 5.00
FREE (CHILDREN UP TO 6 YEARS)
Torre Del Mangia Tower (City Overlook)
This tower is an 87 meter high stone tower built in the 1300s with a belfry that is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. This tower is not as famous as the leaning tower of Pisa but this tower inside the Public Palace in Piazza del Campo is the biggest landmark in town. This is a 400 step climb tower comparable to the bell tower in Florence. This is the best city overlook and views in town. The views of the countryside are beautiful as well. The whole climb takes on average 40 minutes depending on your fitness level.
- 16/10 28/02 (winter): weekdays and holidays 10.00 – 16.00 (ticket office closing at 15.15)
- 01/03 – 15/10 (summer): weekdays and holidays 10.00 – 19.00 (ticket office closing at 18.15)
- Christmas : Closed Tower
- New Year’s Eve: 12.00 – 16.00 (ticket office closes at 15.15)
- Single Ticket: € 10.00
- REDUCED FAMILY (2 adults + children over 11) € 25.00
- FREE children under 11 and resident in the municipality of Siena
- Cumulative Tickets (valid for 2 days):
- MUNICIPAL MUSEUMS (Civico and S. Maria Scala) € 13.00
- MUNICIPAL MUSEUMS AND TOWER (Civico, S. Maria Scala, Torre) € 20.00
- CUMULATIVE FAMILY MUNICIPAL MUSEUMS AND TOWER € 40.00
- BOOK TICKETS HERE
Biggest Market in Tuscany
There is the biggest market found in Tuscany in Siena. Hopefully you find yourself in Siena on a Wednesday. That is the big market day in the city. The market is held in La Lizza which is an area near an old fortress in town. The market is from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. Vendors sell food, clothes, souvenirs, pottery, and more. The market is crowded and it is best to get here early to find the best items. The map below shows the location of the market near the fort.
Homemade Pottery Shops
This area is known for a lot of homemade artisan pottery. The pottery is painted in colorful images, patterns and pictures of Tuscany, Italy countryside. There are poppy flower fields depicted as well as the sunflower fields and the rolling hills and cypress trees of the countryside. The pottery is gorgeous and is very cheap for quality artisan products. This is the main souvenir to buy while you are in Italy especially Tuscany area. I bought a lot of pottery and brought it home wrapped in clothes with very minimal breakage or damage. There are also lots of paintings sold by artists in this town of the poppy and sunflower fields in the country. These are gorgeous and my family brought home several paintings as well as a loot of pottery as our family souvenirs. They are quality beautiful art and sold at reasonable prices.
Antica Siena (Ancient Siena)
This is one of the main home good decorative store that sells a large majoritiy of pottery in the plaza center. They sell all kinds of plates that are different sizes and some huge decorative pieces to be hung. Hand painted pottery and ceramics are a key souvenir to buy when you are in Italy. This shop makes handmade authentic pottery since 1979 and they also customize and ship through the world. This shop is authentic and top rated by Trip Advisor as one of the legitimate places travelers go to shop and get great ceramics while in Italy. This family who owns the shop are authorized as sellers and even though they are in a touristy area downtown are one of the most legitimate shops most people specifically go to in this area for ceramics.
Hours: 9am-8:30pm daily
Local Street Artists
There are so many artists in this region of Italy. There are amazing painters who you can find set up in different parts of the Piazza or streets. They have gorgeous paintings of the Tuscany countryside that make great home souvenirs. You support local artists and have a portrait painting of the gorgeous Italian countryside. They do poppy fields and sunflower fields. This is the artist that I bought a poppy painting from in Siena. This is a very artistic and creative area filled with streets of shops, artists and lots of local artisan products to purchase as souvenirs from your trip. This area will be better shopping and more authentic than inside the big city Florence.
Countryside exploring in San Gimignano (day trip)
The green rolling hills with cypress manicured trees is what you picture in the countryside with the wine vineyards and gorgeous views. This is what you are able to see and visit while you are staying farther outside the main city of Florence. Maybe the most picturesque part of the region is here a bit more south of Siena and can be easily seen. There are lots of Medieval castles, hilltop homes and rural farmhouses with vineyards and cypress tree rows in the country. San Gimignano is a great day trip from Siena because it is only 50 minutes away. This is a true rural Tuscany town and area with wine and little markets and downtown. This is also a great town stop on the way down from Florence to Siena that is on the way. The countryside is so close and is an easy day or half day trip from Siena to see more of the rural Tuscany countryside and vineyards for the best wine.
Find Sunflower & Poppy Fields in the country
This whole area is known in the country for its vineyards, wine, poppy fields and sunflower fields. These are depcited in all the paintings and painted ceramic pottery. This is Tuscany, the flowers, the country and green and the wine. One of my favorite adventures was taking drives out to the countryside and exploring the flower fields in the middle of nowhere.
Sunflowers bloom depending on the weather starting mid-June thru mid-to-late July. And you’ll see them everywhere! Poppies tend to be from early May thru mid-June.
Between Montalcino and Siena
Coming towards Florence at the end of June, the via Cassia, connecting Montalcino and Siena, was lined with fields waiting to bloom. The most amount of sunflowers are reported seen around Siena and San Gimignano. The sunflowers that I saw where in this area.
There is a helpful article I found by a Tuscany native who writes about field locations and lists them here. Another local writes a comprehensive list depending on what month you visit and what type of wildflowers are blooming that is amazing here.
Where to eat
La Napoletana Pizza
This is a killer budget pizza place for dinner. They are not open for lunch. They are known for being the top rated pizza place in siena area. They have good homemade dough and fresh ingredients. Go to this place in person it seems the one potential problem is people who order getting late delivery of colder pizza. There are raving reviews of this pizza in person at their restaurant.
Cost: $ 6 – $ 9
Hours: 7pm-11pm Tues-Sun, closed Mondays
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La Piccola Ciaccineria
This is a cheap, great and tasty budget pizza place in Siena. This place is open for lunch and makes a great budget lunch spot. The pizza can be bought by the slice for budget prices. This is a thinner crust than the first pizza place listed. The first place focuses more on whole pizzas with thicker crust. This is a quicker more cracker crust budget lunch pizza. They are most known for their interesting traditional style of pizza called Ciaccino Ripieno, which is a stuffed white pizza, ciaccino ripieno, filled with cooked ham and mozzarella – soft, stringy and crunchy at the same time. It is either like a thin calzone or a top breaded pizza slice or pocket.
Cost:$2 – $16
Hours: 11am-9pm Sun-Sat
Osteria degli Svitati
This is a higher end nicer Italian restaurant to get great pasta dishes, wine and have something other than budget pizza that is great for lunch. This restaurant is known by some as the best Ragu in Italy or this region at least. This cozy restaurant is a hidden gem they say in the city. Their pasta is raved about by all the locals. Some other favorites are their pesto, caprese and any of their pasta dishes as well as their cold cut platters.
Cost: $20 – $25
Hours: 10:30am-3:30pm, 6:30-9:30pm Monday-Saturday (closed Sundays)
Where to stay
Budget option: Siena Hostel Guidoriccio
This is the cheapest most budget option available in Siena city. This hostel is a low key unassuming stay that is next to a bus stop. This is a bright, colorful, modern and clean hostel with modern decorations and nice hangout lounges. It is 3.5 km from the medieval Piazza del Campo and 3.7 km from Siena Cathedral and the Museum of Metropolitan Institution. This is a convenient central walking and public transit location. There are private rooms as well as single and mixed sex dorms. There is free breakfast and bike rentals available.
Cost: $42/night, BOOK HERE
Residenza Palazzo Borghesi
This is a historical luxury hotel building conveniently located downtown within walking distance of all teh best spots of the city. Another one of the better known nice historic hotels downtown is the Palazzo Venart Luxury Hotel.
Cost: $220/night , book here
Castle hotels :
Castel Monastero, Tuscan Retreat & Spa
This is one of the resotred gorgeous ancient castles inteh area that has become a resort hotel. The other most popular castle turned restful resort is called Castello Di Casole. THe castle resorts are located around 30 minutes outside the city center for quick jonts to explore the town but also wine country in the surrounding countrsside.
Cost: $400-500/night, Book here
Castel Castello di Casole, pictured below, book here
CASTELLO DI FONTERUTOLI
This is the most budget rennovated castel hotel option to expderiene staying in a castel while you are in Italy. This is also a castle that holds a winery on its grounds as well with wine tasting and overlooking the vineyards.
Cost: $87 USD/night, BOOK HERE
Country Hotel: La Locanda
For a nice stay outside in a country house outside the city this is one of the best known in Siena area. This hotel is set in vineyards, olvie groves and woods over a medieval village. The house is a 16th century famrhouse. The country houses are perfect for wine country visiting. There is horse back riding as well as wine tasting and golf. Some other beautiful countryside stays are Fattoria San Martino, la bandita, Follonico, Fattoria Tregole, CASTELLO DI SPALTENNA, CASTELLO DI FONTERUTOLI, CASA FABBRINI, and BORGO LUCIGNANELLO BANDINI.
Cost: 112 euros/night, book here
La Bandita country manor
Cost: $119/night, BOOK HERE
Follonico country manor
Cost: 260 euros/night , BOOK HERE
Fattoria Tregole: Vine Farm Bed & Breakfast
This is a vine farm that wine tasting and tours happen at including a bed and breakfast stay on their beautiful grounds. You can see the wine vineyards and countryside from your personal terrace.
Cost:130 euros a night , BOOK HERE
Fattoria San Martino
Cost: 190 euros /night
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– 6 days to Spring!!💛 Sun, clouds, wind over the Fattoria today. The spring’s promise is in the air! There is a enhancing energy filtering inside. This is one of the suites before cleaning. Enjoy! #fattoriasanmartino #tuscany #toscana #toskana #toscane #hideaway #bedandbreakfast #bedroomdecor #suite #ecofriendly #boutiquehomes #veggiehotels #vacation #holidays #wishlist #happyplace #sustainable #decor #interiordesign #interior #hotellife #springishere
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Happy Thursday 🌿 Although the sunny days, I am taking new photos of the interiors of San Martino for the people who don’t know us. This is a detail of our organic Rolando suite, the bed linen was handmade by Karin (the owner). Enjoy ✨ #uniqueplace #boutiquehomes #slowlife #creativeplace #rustic #interiordetails #suite #tuscany #toskana #toscane #toscana #decor #sustainable #ecofriendly #green #hideaway #fattoriasanmartino #bedroomdecor #bedandbreakfast #bandb #awardwinner #happyplace #travel #placetobe #decorlovers
Cost: 220 euros/night , BOOK HERE