Sightseeing Tours of Siena & San Gimignano

tour duration

8 Hours

start time

09:00 AM
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat, Sun

meeting point

Pick-up at your hotel, more details at booking

Excursions from Siena & San Gimignano

Showing all 5 results

San Gimignano

San Gimignano - tetti
San Gimignano - panoramaSan Gimignano - palazziSan Gimignano - view from the top

Located in the province of Siena in Tuscany is San Gimignano, a small medieval hill town surrounded by a lush green landscape. Famous for its architecture and the many towers that mark its unmistakable skyline, San Gimignano is a fascinating town well worth the visit.

The walled town grew around the Church of San Gimignano, later nicknamed Castle San Gimignano, during the 6th century, adopting its name. During the middle ages, the town was located right along Via Francigena, an ancient pilgrim route, and as a result became a popular stopping point for travelers. The richness of the land around San Gimignano also influenced its importance and wealth, birthing an active trade industry.

Things to see

In 1200, San Gimignano claimed independence from the bishops of Volterra, who had ruled it up to this point. Many churches and public buildings were erected during this time. Between the 12th and 14th centuries, during a period of conflict between the Guelphs and Ghibellines, the wealthy families of the town built tower houses, one more impressive than the last, to both defend their land and rival each other. By the end of the medieval period, there were 72 towers, the tallest reaching nearly 70 meters in height. Although San Gimignano escaped destruction from wars, catastrophes or urbanization, sadly only fourteen of these towers remain standing today.

Other notable examples of the medieval architecture of the town are the historic city centre, deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990, the Piazza della Cisterna, and the Palazzo Comunale. The two biggest churches, the Collegiata in the Piazza del Duomo and the Chiesa di Sant’Agostino, both contain beautiful frescoes and other important artworks by artists such as Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli and Taddeo di Bartolo.

Basilica San Domenico – Siena

Siena  - San Domenico - View
Siena - San Domenico - InteriorSiena - San Domenico - Frescoes

The Basilica of San Domenico, also known as Basilica Cateriniana, is a prominent church in the medieval town of Siena. Built in the 13th century, it was subsequently expanded in the 14th century, resulting in the Gothic appearance it has now. Unfortunately, aspects of its architecture and structure were subsequently destroyed by fires, with further damage resulting from military occupation in the mid 1500s.

Points of interest

Although aesthetically simple inside and out when compared to the Duomo di Siena, near Piazza del Campo, the Basilica of San Domenico holds several important treasures and artworks. These include beautiful religious paintings and frescoes by several local masters, marble altars and even a Gothic style crypt. Most important however are several relics of Saint Catherine of Siena, whose name the church takes.

Palio di Siena

Siena - Palio  - sbandieratore
Siena - Palio - particularSiena - Palio - horsesSiena  - Palio - spalti

Famous the world over, the Palio di Siena is a horse race held biyearly during the summer months of July and August. Ten horses and riders wearing the colors of their “contrada” (district of Siena) race around the Piazza del Campo three times at breakneck speeds; the winner is the first horse to cross the finish line, with or without its rider.

Things to see

Not be mistaken as a simple race, the Palio di Siena is an ancient tradition dating back from the medieval period. To this day, the various contrade passionately compete against one another to win the honor of receiving the “palio” (a painted silk banner). Each race is preceded by an elaborate pageant called the Corteo Storico, where various figures dressed in medieval costumes parade and give mounted demonstrations.

Piazza del Campo

Siena - Piazza del Campo - view from the top
Siena - Piazza del Campo  - panoramaSiena - Palazzo PubblicoSiena - Piazza del Campo  - view

Possibly one of the most famous and beautiful medieval squares in Italy is the Piazza del Campo, found in Siena. The shell-shaped piazza is bordered by the Palazzo Pubblico with its bell tower, Torre del Mangia, as well as several ancient palazzos and the Fonte Gaia, a white marble fountain. Piazza del Campo is also renowned for the Palio di Siena, an important horse race which occurs twice a year and takes place around the edges of the piazza.

Points of interest

Piazza del Campo has been used as a marketplace since at least the 12th century, when the town was still young and the space was still devoid of its landmarks today. It was paved with red bricks in the mid 14th century to better suit the square and its surrounding palaces.

Fonte Gaia, the fountain located in the northwest edge of the piazza, was built in the early 15th century over an existing, earlier fountain. The current one has beautiful bas-reliefs of the Madonna, the seven virtues of the Christian faith, and other figures.

Siena

Siena - Duomo - side view
Siena - Piazza del Campo - view from the topSiena - Piazza del Campo  - panoramaSiena - San Domenico - InteriorSiena - Palazzo PubblicoSiena - viewSiena - Piazza del Campo  - viewSiena  - Duomo - top viewSiena - San Domenico - FrescoesSiena  - San Domenico - View

Probably the most famous medieval town in the Tuscan countryside, Siena offers a wealth of culture, art and cuisine. The town is also renowned for holding the always exhilarating Palio, a historical horse race held twice a year.

Originally an Etruscan settlement, it later became a small Roman town which unfortunately did not prosper under the Roman Empire due to its isolation. It was not until the 4th century, when the Lombards invaded, that Siena began to grow. The town’s medieval period saw the construction of many churches, houses and fortifications that have been wonderfully preserved and can be visited today. Because of its beauty and history, Siena was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.

Things to see

The Piazza del Campo is the famed shell-shaped town square that hosts the Palio horse race. It also houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, two stunning examples of Sienese medieval architecture. The Duomo di Siena, located near Piazza del Campo, is a beautiful 12th century Romanesque-Gothic cathedral housing an impressive collection of artworks. These include the famed lion-decorated pulpit by Nicola Pisano, perfectly preserved Renaissance frescos by Domenico Ghirlandaio, and bas-reliefs by Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Jacopo della Quercia.

The lush hilly countryside that surrounds Siena is also well worth exploring. Perhaps consider stopping in one of restaurants in town to taste the delicious local cuisine and try some of the wines from the area.