Saturday 1 October 2016

Siena: 24 hours in Italy's sweetest city

Perfect Day

Conor Power

Published 14/08/2016 | 02:30

Piazza del Campo square in Siena, Italy
Piazza del Campo square in Siena, Italy
Cathedral of Siena (Duomo di Siena), Italy
Duccio's Maestà
Fruit and Delicatessen shop, Siena, Tuscany; Italy

Conor Power spends 24 hours in Italy's sweetest city.

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10am: Ringside seat at the campo

Wake up and get yourself to Piazza del Campo. Take a seat at one of the slightly overpriced cafés on the square, with a strong caffè in your hand. Campo literally means "field", and it's on the sloping surface here that the "Palio" race takes place on August 16, with horses from rival neighbourhoods tearing around the red-brick square with all the rivalry and ferocity of a local GAA derby.

How: comune.siena.it

2pm: Check out the cathedral

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Even in a country like Italy, with its multitude of stunning cathedrals, the Duomo di Siena will stand out in the memory. The marble pavement alone is a delight, with 56 inlaid scenes from the Old Testament leading you into the church itself. Black and white marble stripes proliferate in this enchanting mixture of Baroque and Gothic styles - and priceless artworks include two paintings by Bernini and four by Michelangelo.

How: Piazza del Duomo, 53100 Siena

5pm: Culture hour

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A little bit of art is next on the menu, and the Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana is the one not to miss. Here, opt for the guided tour that starts at the top floor and brings you through iconic art works that are integral to the city's history. The main focal point is Duccio's huge masterpiece Maestà. It once adorned the altar of the Duomo itself until it was removed for safekeeping. The tour finishes conveniently on Via del Poggio with a café before you.

How: operaduomo.siena.it

8pm: Practise your passegiata

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The passegiata is the Italian family tradition of an evening stroll, with chats, usually after dinner. Join them in animated discussions as you make your way from the posh northern Terzo di Camollia to the down-to-earth Terzo di San Martino. Pause for an aperitif outside the Cavaliere Errante on Piazza Salvanai Provenanzo. Siena is like an open-air museum, with as many restaurants and pastry shops as architectural gems.

How: Il Cavaliere Errante, +39 0577 280403

Do it

Aer Lingus (May-Sept) and Ryanair (March-Nov) fly direct from Dublin to Pisa. See also discovertuscany.com

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