Siena is, without doubt, one of the loveliest places we visited during our time in Italy. With its hilltop setting and winding red brick laneways where there are (pleasantly) more pedestrians than vehicles, Siena is the epitome of an Italian hill town, even though it’s technically a city.

Of course, we visited the historic centre, seeing the famous Il Campo – a square or piazza where the annual, centuries-old bareback horse race called the Pailo, is held.

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Photo of the Palio race

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Plaque in the piazza

We had afternoon tea in the piazza and people-watched for a while, which is always interesting.

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Our afternoon tea view of the piazza

We also visited the famous 13th century Duomo di Siena, one of the most spectacular cathedrals I’ve ever seen, but that’s a whole separate post!

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Duomo di Siena

Afterwards, we strolled the back streets to discover the true essence of the city, and found a range of intriguing relics from Siena’s fascinating past. From the colourful flags which indicate the contradas (neighbourhoods), to wrought iron horse tethers, to ancient door embellishments, statues and hidden gardens – Siena displays an authentic beauty.

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Wrought iron horse tether rings are everywhere in Siena – some are ornate, others primitive

Much of the city’s character is built around the 17 contrada within the historic centre, all of which remain an integral part of life in Siena. Each of these neighbourhoods is represented by either an animal or a mythical creature, such as the caterpillar, eagle, tortoise, panther, porcupine, dragon and unicorn, just to name a few.  Each year, 10 of the contrada send a horse and rider to represent them in the Palio race, and the people of each contrada are fierce rivals when it comes to the race. When you’re walking around the city, you come across plaques and statues which symbolise which contrada you’re standing in. It’s fascinating stuff.

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Contrada flags on sale

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A statue in the Panther contrada

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Light fixtures and a wall plaque in the Dragon contrada

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The ancient buildings of Siena

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This beautiful angel watches over Siena’s people

During our walk, at the top of a steep rise, we came across a little old shop with steps leading down to a workshop. The sign in the window invited passers-by to step inside and view the artisans practice their art of book restoration and calligraphy. I would have loved to go inside, but we were due to catch a bus back to Florence and we didn’t want to miss our ride.Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Even the window grilles are interesting

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

A smartly dressed bust

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

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This pensione looks inviting

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http://www.seizethedayproject.com/a-stroll-around-siena/

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

Statue of a boy at play

Siena, Besties do Italy, Seize the day project, Italy travel

A private courtyard garden we spied

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Our only regret was that we didn’t have more time to spend in Siena. Next time ….

Have you visited Siena? What was your favourite part? Or is Siena on your travel wishlist?  Please leave your comments in the box below. Grazie!

The Besties Do Italy series details how Seize The Day Project’s Lyndall and her long time best friend Jane ventured to Italy to celebrate a significant birthday – sans husbands and children. Shhh, don’t tell anyone they’ve gone! Read related posts in this fascinating series here:

A visit to beautiful San GimignanoEternal Rome, I only just met you but I think I love you – Some enchanted evening in Venice

Linking up with A Brit & A Southerner for #WeekendWanderlust  Weekend-Wanderlust-Logo-V21

Also linking up with Albom Adventures for #WkendTravelInspirationweekend-travel-inspiration-600x600