Here’s our pick of the top things to do in Siena in 2018. From a special tour of the Cathedral, to an exhibition of Medieval sculptures. Witness the famous Medieval horse race Il Palio, or go back to school and learn the fine art of wine appreciation. If you’re planning a visit to Siena and its surroundings this year, make sure these things are on your list.
Things to do in Siena in 2018
Explore the treasures of Siena Cathedral with the Opa Si Pass
The Cathedral is one of Siena’s top sights, and one of Italy’s most impressive churches. It’s a masterpiece of Gothic architecture with a majestic exterior and an interior filled with artistic treasures, from the marble pulpit by Pisano, to statues by Michelangelo and Donatelo and the frescoed Piccolomini library.
This year Siena Cathedral offers new ways to admire all its masterpieces. As of March 2018 the ‘Opa Si Pass’ includes: “Sotto in Duomo”, a 3D video-mapping show in the Oratory of San Giovannino e Gennaro (set under the cathedral), that celebrates the history and distinction of Siena, through a visual journey from the Middle Ages to the present, and the “Gate of heaven” tour that leads visitors to explore the cathedral roof level, up spiral staircases and through secret passages (see official site for more details).
Admire the Duomo’s rarely seen inlaid marble floor
One of the highlights of the Duomo is its precious stunning marble floor, which is usually partially covered for protection. The floor is fully unveiled every year for a couple of months in the late summer/early autumn.
This year it will possible to admire it in all its Medieval splendour from 18th August to 26th October 2018. The immense mosaic work, that Vasari once called “the most magnificent pavement ever done“, is composed of 60 scenes created by various artists and artisans between the 14th and the 16th century. Biblical scenes, ancient gods, symbolic animals and allegories stretch out before your eyes adding a whole new dimension to the cathedral.
More for art lovers – “Maestri a rischio” exhibit
From March 23rd 2018 to 6th January 2019 the Cathedral complex will exhibit the eight gigantic marble heads that once adorned the unfinished facade of Siena’s Baptistry, which dates back to 14th century. They have been masterfully restored and will be shown along with an explanation of their original function.
Visit the Santa Maria della Scala Museum
The fascinating museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala is a favourite spot in Siena, and we recommend it as one of the top things to do in Siena in 2018. Here you’ll find a curious jumble of frescoes, ancient underground chapels, and Roman and Etruscan relics. As you descend into the belly of this former hospital that has been around for 8 centuries, you’ll be retracing the history of Siena.
Experience Piazza del Campo during the Palio
Piazza del Campo is the heart of the town, an amazing Medieval square that you can spend hours admiring from every angle. It’s also the place where the main Siena festivals happen.
The historical Palio horse race takes over Piazza del Campo every year on 2nd July and 16th August, transforming the square into a makeshift race track. The streets of Siena are dressed up for the party during the weeks before the Palio, giving the visitors a chance to enjoy this enchanting town in all its traditional charm. Bear in mind that Siena gets very busy during the Palio, so if you’re interested in this event you better book well in advance.
Discover other traditional festivals in Tuscany!
Siena wine school
This school is completely dedicated to the study of Tuscan wine. A professional English-speaking sommelier will guide you through a variety of different experiences. These include everything from tastings to foodie tours of Siena. It’s lots of fun, and you’ll get to taste a variety of local wines, including Chianti and the sublime Brunello di Montalcino.
Now that we’ve explored the best things to do in Siena in 2018, let’s have a look at a few interesting activities you’ll find in the surrounding area.
A few day trip ideas near Siena
Radda nel bicchiere Wine Festival – 26th and 27th May 2018
If you love wine don’t miss the opportunity to take part in one of the Chianti area’s most popular wine tasting events. Radda nel bicchiere or “Radda in a Glass”, attracts wine enthusiasts and professionals from all over Italy, who flock to the scenic small town of Radda in Chianti to taste the best that local wine producers have to offer. Busy, lively, and a must for wine lovers. Radda is a 50 minute drive from Siena, and a lovely one at that.
Chianti Sculpture Park
The Chianti Sculpture Park is a great and unusual place to experience the Tuscan landscape. The countryside is reinterpreted with an artistic touch, in a magical setting where contemporary sculptures stand shoulder to shoulder with olive and cypress trees. During the months of July and August 2018 a series of concerts will be staged at sunset in the open-air amphitheatre inside the park. The Park is in Pievesciata, half an hour’s drive from Siena.
Check out the best places to visit in the Chianti region, which you can easily explore if you’re based in Siena.
Take a scenic drive in the Val d’Orcia
There’s never a bad time to visit the UNESCO protected landscape of the Val d’Orcia, south of Siena. So if you’re planning a trip to Tuscany this year, why don’t you take a road trip around its famous hills and enjoy each bend in the road and the views beyond it? Bring your camera and follow our itinerary that shows you all the most scenic spots to visit. Best times to travel are Spring, September and October.