Siena has much to see and much to admire. Siena has been designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO so it is always filled with tourists.
We first visited the main monuments outside the central area of Siena before heading to Campo Square. Among them were the Siena Cathedral, begun in the 12th century, and considered to be a masterpiece of Romanesque-Gothic architecture. It contains an inlaid marble mosaic floor along with frescos and sculptures from many noted artists. But no photos were allowed!
We also toured the sanctuary of St. Catherine of Siena, considered, along with St. Francis of Assisi, the two patron saints of Italy. Born in 1347, St. Catherine devoted her life to Christ. Her original home is still in existence and we toured parts of it. The sarcophagus of St. Catherine in beneath the high altar of Santa Maria soprano Minerva in Rome. However, her head was parted from her body and inserted in a gilt bust of bronze. It is entombed in the Basilica of San Domenico where is remains today.
From there we ventured into the central area of Siena, a beautiful open area surrounded by shops and eateries where we wandered and shopped. This is the spot for the famous Palio horse race. The race takes place twice a year, July 2nd and August 16th. Huge crowds fill the square and any space above it. The medieval horse race takes place around the perimeter of the square. The riders are bare-backed and compete only for pride and a banner bearing the image of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is televised each year, so try and take it in!
Our afternoon took us to San Gimignano, a small walled medieval town, known as the Town of Fine Towers. It is known for its preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, as seen in some of the photos. It is a delight to explore, with enticing shops and narrow streets offering saffron, wines cultivated from the area and lots of salamis prepared in the area.
After another exhausting day, we came back to our hotel, enjoyed another delightful dinner, and watched the lights come on over the hillside below.