Italy and I have been entangled in a love affair since the first time I strolled through Rome’s ancient streets, and this love affair has only deepened over the years. There’s so much to love about Italy–the delicious food, the rich history, the beautiful architecture, the laid-back lifestyle and the friendly locals. So whenever I have the opportunity to revisit my favorite Italian cities or explore new ones, I jump at the chance. Recently, a travel delay resulted in a fortuitous opportunity–to travel to the gorgeous Italian region of Tuscany. Without hesitating, I said yes and started packing my bags. Tuscany, after all, is considered one of the world’s most beautiful regions, and I’m always ready to bask in the beauty of Italy when the opportunity arises.
This trip, I decided to stay in the charming old Italian town of Siena, which is the perfect home base for exploring Tuscany. The winding streets and alleyways of this pedestrian-only town will take you back in time, and the fragrant markets and welcoming locals will make you feel right at home. If you have the chance to take a spontaneous trip to Tuscany, book your last-minute hotel in Siena on HotelTonight like I did. Within minutes, you’ll have a great hotel room waiting for you in this pretty Tuscan town, and you’ll be well on your way to starting your own love affair with Italy.
The beating heart of Siena is the city’s main square, Piazza del Campo. This large, impressive square is where locals gather to socialize, eat and drink and watch the famous Palio races. Since I wanted to feel like I was a local in Siena, I spent a great deal of time in the Piazza del Campo during my stay, and I always seemed to find a new place to explore or a new restaurant to enjoy. The abundance of red brick and white marble create a picturesque sight, and this square is certainly one of the most beautiful I’ve come across in my travels throughout Italy. Piazzo del Campo also has a long, rich history, as it was first used as a market square in the 1200s. So if you want to experience Siena’s history, culture and energy, you definitely need to spend some time in the Piazza del Campo.
Siena is a city that thrives on community pride. Within the city’s medieval walls, there are 17 distinct districts, called contrade. Each one of these districts has its own flag and symbol, and twice a year the contrade compete in the world-renowned horse race, the palio. The neighborhood pride in Siena fascinated me, so I spent an afternoon wandering through the different contrade, learning from the locals about their flags, their special symbols and their hope that they will be the victors in the city’s upcoming Palio.
It’s my personal opinion that every great city should have a beautiful public park or green space, and Siena certainly doesn’t disappoint in this regard. The All’orto de Pecci is a large garden dating back to medieval times, and it’s a green oasis that provides the perfect spot of calm for when you want to escape the tourist crowds. There’s no picnicking allowed in All’orto de Pecci, though, so plan on eating at one of the fantastic nearby restaurants before visiting this park.
Another one of the most popular squares in Siena is the Piazza Duomo, where you’ll find the exquisite Gothic cathedral, the Duomo. If you want to see spectacular architecture and learn about Siena’s rich history, you should actually venture inside the Duomo and walk around. If spending a lot of time in a church doesn’t interest you, you should still enjoy the beauty of the Duomo from the lively square, where there are also many great restaurants and gelato shops.
Like many Siena locals do on Sundays, I decided to get out of the city and enjoy some of Tuscany’s other charming destinations. I settled on Monteriggioni, a medieval walled village that has been beautifully preserved over the centuries. Simply wandering through the ancient streets of Monteriggioni is enough to excite history buffs, but this old town also has some of the best food in Tuscany, so you’ll definitely want to bring your appetite.
After my trip to Siena, it’s safe to say that my love affair with Italy is stronger than ever. I felt an instant connection with Siena, and I adored every moment I spent in this medieval Tuscan village. I already know that I want to return to Siena one day in the future, and when I do, you can bet that I’ll book my last-minute hotel in Siena through HotelTonight. Traveling can be stressful, but HotelTonight takes away the stress and hassle of scouring the internet to find good deals on hotels. Thanks to HotelTonight, you can sit back, relax and enjoy your gelato.