The weather forecast for that day was dreadful. I sincerely hoped it would not rain as I knew a bit of a walk awaited me from the train station to the town centre (half an hour walk uphill). Of course there was an option to take a bus, but I could not call myself a tramping man then, could I? 🙂 Fortunately the luck was on my side and although the day was mostly cloudy (making the pictures look a little bit bland) there wasn’t a single drop of rain. I guess the weather forecast is as good as the one in UK! I planned to spend about 5h in the city. I believe it was not quite enough as there were some serious queues to the main sights that would take at least 1h away. For that reason I did not really see inside of anything. But let’s start from the beginning.
I took an 1.5h train from Pisa right in the morning. There was a change halfway in Empoli. I honestly thought I would not make it as the train from Pisa was late. Fortunately I arrived just in time. A short run across the platforms and I was on the way to Siena. The countryside was not as good as expected from the stories about Tuscany, but then again I blame the weather (you just can’t blame Italy!). I arrived in Siena a bit before afternoon and after a quick glance at google maps I headed towards the city walls. It was a bit of a maze there and I later found out an easier way (an escalator!!!) but I do not regret going up as it was fun in itself. The main city is surrounded by walls and obviously you have to walk uphill and around the walls to get through the main gate (defo they need to work on that gate as it’s in a shameful condition).
Once I’ve entered the city it felt like going back in time. To the medieval times to be precise. The city feels rusty and somehow poor – but I believe that’s the goal. If they revamped everything it would lose it’s charm so they better leave it as it is – just keep it safe! I have to admit I loved the narrow, hilly streets. Some were empty, some full of tourists. The city is definitely a gem!
I headed straight towards Fortezza Medicea – a fort built in XVI Century. The fort itself has not much to offer, but the views from the top are spectacular. You can climb up the fort for free. I loved how many people were jogging around the top! I wish I could join them. I took some pictures from up there and then from the bottom (also some wonderful sighs of Siena dominating up on the hill). This is one of the most picturesque place when it comes to the city. Well worth venturing to.
The walk from Fortezza Medicea to the city centre is about 15-20 mins. It’s a nice stroll through narrow streets that lead up to the Piazza del Campo – the main square of the city. I was surprised to see it’s not flat and felt somehow empty (despite hundreds of tourists). I am not sure but something felt wrong there. By no means it’s a beautiful square, but soulless. I believe that’s because it’s old (and feels old) and does not have a single tree / plant / flower. They could make it prettier but then again it would lose it’s old look which people would not like. Plus the city is UNESCO heritage and they would not allow this to happen. So be it 🙂
The last part of the city I wanted to see was the cathedral, proudly dominating the city’s skyline. I was vastly disappointed to find out an hour long queue to buy the tickets and decided to opt out (I had a train to Florence later in the day). Seeing the Duomo from outside had to be enough. That’s the price to pay when you have to squeeze so many places in such a short time. Being constantly chased by deadlines / bus and train departure times means you have to make choices! But at the same time it pushes you to see more in less making trips more worthwhile. Each to their own.
So what do I think of the city? If you ever go to Tuscany this city definitely must be on your to-do list. It’s very charming, feels old and almost ancient and is very compact so you can see it all within a day (a full day, not a part day though). It’s best to spend at least two days in the city. Be mindful of the hotel prices. They are one of the highest in Tuscany and if you count on some cheap sleeps – sleep outside of the city and take a bus / train in.
Get tempted in the gallery below. Enjoy!