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Ayia Napa, Cyprus
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With its ancient architecture, enchanting history and irresistible cuisine, Siena offers plenty of charm for your next getaway. The skyline is dominated by its 14th century tower, rendering this medieval city unmistakable. It’s the perfect choice for your holiday in 2018.
Located in the scenic region of Tuscany, Siena is famous for its historic centre and cultural attractions. As all the excitement of Rome is only a three-hour drive away, there’s plenty of scope to combine a trip to the capital with a holiday in Siena in 2018. Similarly, Pisa and its iconic leaning tower, are just a train ride away, providing a great day trip option if you’re keen to get even more of a cultural fill. If you’d prefer some beach time alongside your city break, you’re in luck. Italy’s coast can be reached easily by car or by train, so you’re sure to get your dose of seaside fresh air.
Whether you’re in search of a romantic weekend getaway in a truly beautiful setting, or just want to make the most of Tuscany’s delicious food and drink, you’ll find what you’re looking for on your holiday to Siena.
Siena is one of the most popular, and most visited places in Tuscany and it’s not difficult to see why. To experience one of its top attractions, head straight to the heart of the city; the beautiful Piazza del Campo. An iconic landmark of the city, it makes a good starting spot, with Siena’s most popular attractions located nearby, between the tower and the cathedral.
At the foot of the tower is Siena’s vast square, a meeting place for locals and a hub for tourists seeking out the city’s historical spots. The Fonte Gaia, a large water fountain, makes for an excellent photo opportunity. Adorned with sculptures and made in marble, it offers the perfect centrepiece for the city, as well as a good place to do some people watching! Grab a slice of pizza and a beer and watch the world go by.
Overlooking the Piazza del Campo is one of the city’s most notable buildings; the Palazzo Comunale, the city’s historic town hall. Next stop is the Torre del Mangia which offers particularly stunning views of the entire city - that’s if you can brave the climb!
With Italy’s unparalleled reputation for food and drink, it’s no surprise that a holiday to Siena will delight those in search of authentic Tuscan cuisine. The region’s restaurants generally make the most of locally sourced produce including salami, cheese and wine. Steak is also a favoured dish of the city, usually served alongside a variety of fresh local vegetables, and of course, red wine.
When in Siena, it’s well worth trying out some traditional Italian dishes. Featuring on most menus is Ribolitta; a Tuscan vegetable and bread soup that was originally made from leftovers and has since become one of Siena’s staple dishes.
If you’re wondering where to eat in town, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Take a wander around the main city streets and you’ll be able to follow your nose to the most enticing restaurants and trattorias. For those in search of fresh seafood dishes, head to Tre Cristi, while Morbidi offers a great bargain option for those in the market for some traditional Tuscan cuisine without the price tag.
Whether you’re spending your holiday in Siena with big kids or little ones, this city offers a great getaway for families. While you won’t find thrill-inducing theme park rides and attractions on your trip, Siena has a fascinating past to discover, offering kids a real history lesson outside of the classroom.
The famous Duomo, Siena’s cathedral is a good place to begin. You’ll even experience the remnants of a second, larger cathedral that was abandoned after the Black Death of 1348, reducing the city’s population from 100,000 to 30,000. Back to the main cathedral, you’ll find an enchanting blend of architectural styles that makes this building quite spectacular. The black and green marble design is said to be symbolic of Tuscany as a region, while the art work inside includes works from some of the greats such as Donatello to Michelangelo.
Of course, if you’ve got some budding artists on holiday with you, you might want to drop into the Pinacoteca Nazionale. The gallery contains a vast collection of Sienese paintings originating from the 12th century onwards, guaranteed to make an impression on your youngsters.
Siena holidays are much more suited to those in search of a relaxed getaway. That’s not to say there isn’t enough to do for those wanting adventure or activity either. If you’re planning on packing your hiking boots, Tuscany’s stunning surroundings offer the ideal setting for long walks in the countryside. There are many trails to follow, each offering something entirely different, yet still showing you all that the Tuscan landscape has to offer. Take the track from the city centre to the Orti dei Tolomei, a small park on the edge of the city that offers great views over the Tuscan hills.
For those with a greater sense of adventure, there are numerous tour groups offering up novel ways to see Tuscany. Take a hot air balloon and soar above the city and surrounding area, or jump on a train for a nature tour that sees you whizzing past some of the region’s best nature sites in an old-fashioned steam train.
While Siena isn’t a coastal town, it is within close proximity to some of Tuscany’s best sandy spots. A 90 minute drive will take you to Castiglione Della Pescaia, which was awarded best Tuscan beach in 2014. Expect a wide sandy shore offering a great setting for lounging around, or delving into a good book.
Alternatively, head to Le Rocchette, around 7km north of Castiglione Della Pescaia. Overlooked by a castle, it’s a picture-perfect beach, complete with sun loungers and parasols to shelter you from the sunshine. Divers and snorkelers will enjoy the rocky sea bed, found at the foot of the castle, with uninhabited caves as well as a myriad of marine life ready to be explored.
While you won’t find buzzing nightclubs on holiday in Siena, there’s plenty of charm to be found in the city’s bar scene. Evenings are generally centred around food and drink, with locals and holidaymakers spending after-dark hours settled into in bars and restaurants. A stroll should take you to some of the city’s coffee shops, where you’re bound to find a few people sipping on coffee or enjoying a late-night snack. Even some of Siena’s pastry shops stay open until late - perfect if you’re craving something sweet after dinner!
Music fans won’t be disappointed here. There is always a bar or two offering live music or laid-back acoustic sessions. Siena’s Tea Room is a favoured spot, offering tea and cake by day and jazz music and cocktails by night. If you fancy something with more of a cultural edge, make the most of the city’s classical music scene with a visit to La Chigiana. Set in a medieval watchtower, it is a venue for two summer festivals; the Settimana Musicale in July and the Estate Musicale Chigiana in July and August.
Tuscany has long been heralded as a great spot for those in search of romance, and who could resist the meandering medieval streets of Siena? Strolling through the ancient alleyways is a great way to discover the city and spend some quality time with each other.
Where better to explore wine making in detail than in region’s historical centre? Entocea Italiana is close to the city’s main bus station, and boasts an exhibition housing more than 1,600 bottles of wine. Found inside the bastions of the 16th century fortress, it boasts a uniquely romantic setting, as well as the chance to sample a range of wines from around the country. Make the most of the day, and the wine, by having a long candle-lit dinner afterwards.
A holiday to Siena wouldn’t be complete without soaking up its iconic culture, which you’ll find around every corner. While there are numerous religious buildings and historic attractions to visit, the city also has plenty of museums and art galleries worth delving into. The Civic Museum of Siena, for one, was commissioned by the city’s Government and houses plenty of ancient artefacts and paintings depicting its rich history. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful Virgin Mary in Majesty, from 1315.
Another must-visit is the Complesso Museale Santa Maria della Scala. The building dates back to the 13th century and interestingly, was once a working hospital. Nowadays it is a top tourist spot due to the three museums found within. The best of the three is an archeological exhibit that journeys deep into the tunnels below the hospital unveiling the city’s fascinating past.