Here’s our pick of the top things to do in Siena in 2019. From a guided tour of the Cathedral, to exploring the world of the Medieval horse race Il Palio, try the authentic Pici pasta and taste wine in a Castle. If you’re planning a visit to Siena this year, make sure these things are on your list.
Best Things to do in Siena in 2019
1. See the splendid Gothic Cathedral
Siena’s Cathedral is one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in Italy, and a trip to the town wouldn’t be complete without a visit to its artistic masterpiece.
The exterior is a feast of statues and decorative marble motifs and never fails to impress. Meanwhile the inside boasts colourful frescoes in the marvellous Piccolomini Library, a marble pulpit by Pisano and statues by Donatello and Michelangelo.
Joining a tour is a great way to learn about the history of Siena and its centuries old traditions, and to explore the magnificent Cathedral with a local guide.
2. Admire the Duomo’s rarely seen inlaid marble floor
One of the highlights of the Duomo is its 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 27th October 2019. 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.
3. Visit the Santa Maria della Scala Museum
Get to the heart of Medieval Siena by exploring the Santa Maria della Scala Complex: you’ll find a 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.
This year from 11th April to 7th July 2019, the entrance ticket includes a photographic exhibition “Hospitalia” dedicated to the world of care and hospitals, by Elena Franco.
=> Discover some Great Day Trips from Siena
4. Learn about the Palio tradition
Siena wouldn’t be the same without the Palio. The historic horse race – held every year on 2nd July and 16th August – literally shapes the life of this town, and it always brings by excitement and competitive spirit. In the spectacular setting of Piazza del Campo, the race features ten horses and riders who make a lap of the square bareback, dressed in the colours of their contrada (city districts) .
Each Sienese contrada has its own ancient legends and museum. If you’d like to learn more about Siena’s fascinating stories and traditions that link the town to the Palio, join this Palio Walking Tour.
5. Order a plate of authentic Pici
Pici have become a thing now, but Siena is the place to eat these authentic thick handmade spaghetti. Like many other Italian dishes, pici were born a long time ago (some claim the Etruscans were already rolling these type of pasta). They are a very simple dish of the “cucina povera” , or peasant cooking style, made without egg and originally served with a few simple ingredients.
While you’re in Siena, don’t miss the opportunity to try a plate of ‘pici cacio e pepe‘, served with abundant local pecorino cheese and pepper – or ‘pici all’aglione‘ with a local variety of garlic and tomato. For meat lovers, the richer version is pici with wild boar or cinta senese sauce. Either way it makes an unforgettable meal. A good place to try them is Osteria Enoteca Sotto Le Fonti.Opera propria, CC BY-SA 3.0, Collegamento
6. Wine Tasting at a Castle
Get a taste of Chianti’s famous wines and its impressive castles on this Day Tour from Siena. With an expert guide on hand, you’ll see Castello di Brolio, tour some of the best Tuscan wineries and you’ll have a chance to savour the local Chianti Classico wine. Lunch at a wine estate included.
7. Italian Opera in Siena
Music lover? Here’s is one of the best things to do in Siena in 2019! In Siena you can listen to some Italian Opera in a friendly and informal setting. From March to November 2019 in the Auditorium of Santo Stefano alla Lizza, Opera concerts every Tuesday Thursday and Saturday – Full program and booking => see the official site.