Siena is located in central Tuscany, in the
heart of a vast series of rolling hills, between Chianti and the Crete Senesi
The city is universally famous for its artistic heritage, the architectural unity of its medieval cityscape and its celebrated “Palio” horse race. In 1995 the city’s historic centre was officially declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco.
The “Palio”, a traditional bareback horse race between the various districts,
or contrade, in Siena, is held in the city’s main square, Piazza del Campo, on
July 2 and August 16. During these periods the city speaks of nothing else as the Palio is not merely a
tourist event or the reconstruction of a historical medieval joust, it is the expression
of an ancient and deeply-rooted Sienese tradition. The race is organised with
maniacal precision by the city contrade, each of which has a proud and distinctive
character that is maintained by numerous social events that bond its members
together throughout the year.
Siena also has an extensive culinary tradition, perhaps on account of its
wealth during the middle ages and the number of hostelries and taverns that
lined the via Francigena (the pilgrim route to Rome).
Its best known specialities include:
pici, a kind of thick, handmade spaghetti usually served with a meat or garlic ("all'aglione") sauce;
ribollita, a vegetable and bean soup served on thick slices of toasted garlic bread (the main ingredient is kale and the soup is called “ribollita” because it is reheated numerous times to enhance the flavour)
mixed meat roasts which typically include sausages, a pork "costoleccio", and veal or beef sirloin streak
boiled or grilled game, all the local species
boar, a common speciality all over this area
typical cakes and biscuits, such as the famous Panforte (with its many varieties of Panforte nero or Panpepato, Panforte al cioccolato, Panforte bianco and Panforte fiorito), Ricciarelli, pan co' santi, copate and berricuocoli.
Numerous fine wines produced in the province of Siena, including the world famous Chianti, Chianti Classico, Chianti Colli Senesi, Chianti Superiore, Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, Brunello di Montalcino and Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
Siena can be easily reached from Lodole Country House in about an hour and a half by taking the A1 motorway as far as the Firenze-Certosa exit and then continuing along the Firenze-Siena highway.