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Comune di Siena
View of Piazza del Campo (Campo Square), the Mangia Tower (Torre del Mangia) and Santa Maria in Provenzano Church
View of Piazza del Campo (Campo Square), the Mangia Tower (Torre del Mangia) and Santa Maria in Provenzano Church
Flag of Siena
Coat of arms of Siena
Location of Siena
Siena is located in Italy
Location of Siena in Italy
Siena is located in Tuscany
Siena (Tuscany)
Coordinates: (53893) 43°19′07″N 11°19′50″E / 43.31861°N 11.33056°E / 43.31861; 11.33056
ProvinceSiena (SI)
FrazioniAbbadia, Agostoli, Bolgione, Colle Malamerenda, Costafabbri, Costalpino, Fogliano, Ginestreto, Isola d'Arbia, Le Tolfe, Monteliscai, Pieve a Bozzone, Presciano, Sant'Andrea a Montecchio, Santa Regina, Taverne d'Arbia, Val di Pugna, Vico d'Arbia, Vignano, Volte Alte
 • MayorNicoletta Fabio (centre-right)
 • Total118 km2 (46 sq mi)
322 m (1,056 ft)
 (31 December 2017[2])[3]
 • Total53,901
 • Density460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
53100, 53010
Dialing code0577
Patron saint
Saint day1 December
8 October
CriteriaCultural: (i)(ii)(iv)
Inscription1995 (19th Session)
Area170 ha (420 acres)
Buffer zone9,907 ha (24,480 acres)

Siena (/siˈɛnə/ see-EN, Italian: [ˈsjɛːna, ˈsjeːna] ;[4] Latin: Sena Iulia) is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena. Siena is the 12th largest city in the region by number of inhabitants, with a population of 53,062 as of 2022.[5]

The city is historically linked to commercial and banking activities, having been a major banking center until the 13th and 14th centuries.[6] Siena is also home to the oldest bank in the world, the Monte dei Paschi bank, which has been operating continuously since 1472 (552 years ago) (1472).[7] Several significant Renaissance painters were born and worked in Siena, among them Duccio, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Simone Martini and Sassetta, and influenced the course of Italian and European art.[8][9] The University of Siena, originally called Studium Senese, was founded in 1240, making it one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world.[10][11]

Siena was one of the most important cities in medieval Europe, and its historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which contains several buildings from the 13th and 14th centuries.[9][12] The city is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year in Piazza del Campo.[13][14]



Capitoline Wolf at Siena Duomo. According to a legend, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus. When they fled Rome, they took the statue of the She-wolf to Siena, which became a symbol of the town.

Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns, was first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. A Roman town called Saena Julia was founded at the site in the time of the Emperor Augustus.[15]

According to local legend, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus and thus nephews of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Supposedly after their father's murder by Romulus, they fled Rome, taking with them the statue of the she-wolf suckling the infants (Capitoline Wolf), thus appropriating that symbol for the town.[16] Additionally they rode white and black horses, giving rise to the Balzana, or coat of arms of Siena with a white band atop a dark band. Some claim the name Siena derives from Senius. Other etymologies derive the name from the Etruscan family name Saina, the Roman family name Saenii, or the Latin word senex "old" or its derived form seneo "to be old".[17]

The first known document of the Sienese community dates back to 70 AD: The Roman Senator Manlio Patruito reported to Rome that he had been ridiculed with a fake funeral during his official visit to Saena Iulia, a small military colony in Tuscia. The Roman Senate decided to punish the main culprits and to severely call the Sienese to greater respect for Roman authority.[18]

At the end of the third century the Christianization of the territory also took place by Sant'Ansano, known precisely as the "Baptizer of the Sienese", who was in fact punished by the Roman authorities governing Siena with the test of fire and boiling oil, imprisonment and finally beheading. During the Middle Ages he will therefore be named patron saint of Siena and the day of his liturgical anniversary will mark the beginning of the "Contrada Year".[19][20]

Middle Ages[edit]

Feudal power waned, however, and by the death of Countess Matilda in 1115 the border territory of the March of Tuscany which had been under the control of her family, the Canossa, broke up into several autonomous regions. This ultimately resulted in the creation of the Republic of Siena.[15]

The Republic of Siena, established in the 12th century, was a vibrant and influential city-state during the medieval and Renaissance periods. Founded on principles of commerce and governance, Siena quickly became a significant player in the region's political landscape. Siena's economy thrived primarily through its wool industry, which was renowned throughout Europe. The city's strategic location along major trade routes further bolstered its prosperity, allowing Siena to establish trade networks that extended across Europe. This economic success was supported by a well-developed banking system and a strong guild structure that regulated various trades and professions.[21]

Politically, the Republic of Siena was governed by a complex system of councils and magistrates, dominated by powerful noble families who competed for influence and control. The city's political structure evolved over time, with periodic reforms aimed at balancing power and maintaining stability. However, internal rivalries often led to factionalism and occasional civil unrest, one of the main challenges faced by many Italian city-states of that period.[21]

Culturally, Siena flourished during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, producing notable artists such as Duccio di Buoninsegna and Ambrogio Lorenzetti. These artists, along with architects and scholars, contributed to the city's rich artistic and intellectual heritage. Siena's distinctive Gothic architecture, exemplified by the iconic Duomo di Siena and the Palazzo Pubblico, remains a testament to its cultural achievements during this period.[22] During the golden age of Siena before the Black Death in 1348, the city was home to 50,000 people.[23]

Despite its cultural and economic prowess, the Republic faced external threats and conflicts, particularly from its rival Florence. The rivalry between Siena and Florence intensified throughout the 14th and 15th centuries, culminating in a series of wars known as the Italian Wars. These conflicts ultimately weakened Siena's political and economic position.[6]

From 1547 to 1552, the Spanish-installed governor of Siena was Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, until he was ousted by a Sienese revolt, which reestablished the Sienese Republic. In the Italian War of 1551–59, the republic was defeated by the rival Florence in alliance with the Spanish crown. After 18 months of resistance, Siena surrendered to Spain on 17 April 1555, marking the end of the republic.[24]

Medicean period[edit]

After the fall of the Republic, a few Sienese led by the Florentine exile Piero Strozzi, not wanting to accept the fall of the Republic, took refuge in Montalcino, creating the Republic of Siena sheltered in Montalcino. It lived until 31 May 1559 when it was betrayed by the French allies, whom Siena had always supported, concluding with the Peace of Cateau Cambrésis with Charles V, which effectively ceded the Republic to the Medici.[25]

The House of Medici, apart from the brief parenthesis of Ferdinando I, who tried to create an organized state, were not able to give a stable structure to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany, keeping almost unchanged the division between the so-called Old State, i.e. Florence, and the New State, i.e. Siena and the southern part up to Pitigliano, with different laws and taxes. With the death of Gian Gastone de' Medici, (1737), who had no children, the Medici dynasty ended and the Grand Duchy passed into the hands of the Habsburg-Lorraine dynasty who kept it until 1799.[25]

Late modern period[edit]

After the Napoleonic period and the Risorgimento uprisings, Siena was the first city in Tuscany, in 1859, to vote in favour of annexation to the Kingdom of Italy.[26]


Siena aerial panorama. June 2024.
Siena aerial panorama. June 2024.

Siena is located in the central part of Tuscany, in the middle of a vast hilly landscape between the Arbia river valley (south), the Merse valley (south-west), the Elsa valley (north), the Chianti hills (north-east), the Montagnola Senese (west) and the Crete Senesi (south-east). The city lies at 322 m (1,056 ft) above sea level.


Siena has a typical inland Mediterranean climate. Average rainfall is 750 mm (29.5 in), with the maximum in November and the minimum in July. July is the hottest month, with an average temperature of 22.2 °C (72.0 °F), and January the coldest.[27]


The main activities are tourism, services, agriculture, handicrafts and light industry.

In 2009 agricultural activity comprised 919 companies with a total area of 10.755 square kilometres (4.153 sq mi) for a usable agricultural area of 6.954 square kilometres (2.685 sq mi) or about 130 of the total municipal area (data ISTAT for the 2000 Agriculture Census V).

There is little manufacturing in the city. One exception is the seasonal confectionery industry, which produces local specialities including panforte, ricciarelli and cavallucci at Christmas, and pane co' santi for I Santi on 1 November and I Morti on the following day.[citation needed]

The area has also seen a growth in biotechnology. The Centenary Institute Sieroterapico Achille Sclavo used to be Swiss-owned, operating under the company name, Novartis Vaccines. Novartis developed and produced vaccines and employed about a thousand people. In 2015, the research plant in Siena became part of Glaxo Smith Kline, as part of a deal between Novartis and this firm.[28]




Siena retains a ward-centric culture from medieval times. Each ward (contrada) is represented by an animal or mascot and has its own boundary and distinct identity. Ward rivalries are most rampant during the annual horse race (Palio) in the Piazza del Campo.[29] There are 17 wards (contrada): Aquila, Bruco, Chiocciola, Civetta, Drago, Giraffa, Istrice, Leocorno, Lupa, Nicchio, Oca, Onda, Pantera, Selva, Tartuca, Torre, Valdimontone.

The Palio[edit]

The Palio di Siena is a traditional medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August. The event is attended by large crowds, and is widely televised. Ten randomly selected from 17 Contrade (which are city neighbourhoods originally formed as battalions for the city's defence) vie for the trophy: a painted banner, or Palio bearing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.


Madonna and Child with saints polyptych by Duccio (1311–18)
Sassetta, Institution of the Eucharist (1430–32), Pinacoteca di Siena

Over the centuries, Siena has had a rich tradition of arts and artists. The list of artists from the Sienese School include Duccio and his student Simone Martini, Pietro Lorenzetti and Martino di Bartolomeo. A number of well-known works of Renaissance and High Renaissance art still remain in galleries or churches in Siena.

The Church of San Domenico contains art by Guido da Siena, dating to the mid-13th century. Duccio's Maestà, which was commissioned by the City of Siena in 1308, was instrumental in leading Italian painting away from the hieratic representations of Byzantine art and directing it towards more direct presentations of reality. And his Madonna and Child with Saints polyptych, painted between 1311 and 1318, remains at the city's Pinacoteca Nazionale.

The Pinacoteca also includes several works by Domenico Beccafumi, as well as art by Lorenzo Lotto, Domenico di Bartolo and Fra Bartolomeo.

Main sights[edit]

Siena Cathedral
Interior of the Siena Cathedral
Façade of the Palazzo Pubblico (town hall) during the Palio days
Piazza Salimbeni
Streets of old Siena

The Siena Cathedral (Duomo), begun in the 12th century, is a masterpiece of Italian RomanesqueGothic architecture. Its main façade was completed in 1380 with a nave oriented northeast–southwest. A proposed expansion of the eastern transept would have transformed the church into an ambitiously massive basilica, the largest then in the world, with an east–west nave. However, the scarcity of funds, in part due to war and the Black Death, truncated the project. Two walls of this expanded eastern transept remain; through an internal staircase, visitors can climb for a grand view of the city.

The Siena Cathedral Pulpit is an octagonal 13th-century masterpiece sculpted by Nicola Pisano with lion pedestals and biblical bas-relief panels. The inlaid marble mosaic floor of the cathedral, designed and laboured on by many artists, is among the most elaborate in Italy. The Sacristy and Piccolomini library have well-preserved Renaissance frescos by Ghirlandaio and Pinturicchio respectively. Other sculptors active in the church and in the subterranean baptistry are Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia and others. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo contains Duccio's famous Maestà (1308–11) and various other works by Sienese masters. More Sienese paintings are to be found in the Pinacoteca, e.g. 13th-century works by Dietisalvi di Speme.

The Piazza del Campo, the shell-shaped town square, unfurls before the Palazzo Pubblico with its tall Torre del Mangia. This is part of the site for the Palio horse race. The Palazzo Pubblico, itself a great work of architecture, houses yet another important art museum. Included within the museum is Ambrogio Lorenzetti's frescoes depicting the Allegory and Effects of Good and Bad Government and also some of the finest frescoes of Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti.

The Palazzo Salimbeni, located in a piazza of the same name, was the original headquarters and remains in possession of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, one of the oldest banks in continuous existence in Europe.

Housed in the notable Gothic Palazzo Chigi-Saracini on Via di Città is the Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena's conservatory of music.

Other churches in the city include:

The historic Siena synagogue is also preserved and open to visitors.

The city's gardens include the Orto Botanico dell'Università di Siena, a botanical garden maintained by the University of Siena.

The Medicean Fortress houses the Siena Jazz School, with courses and concerts throughout the year, and a festival during the International Siena Jazz Masterclasses.

In the neighbourhood are numerous patrician villas, some of which are attributed to Baldassarre Peruzzi:


Stadio Artemio Franchi – Montepaschi Arena


The Strade Bianche cycling race starts and finishes in Siena

Siena hosts the start and finish of the Strade Bianche, a professional cycling race famous for its historic white gravel roads, called strade bianche or sterrati in Italian.[30] More than 50 kilometres (31 miles) of the race is run over dirt roads, usually country lanes and farm tracks twisting through the hills and vineyards of the Chianti region. The finish is on the Piazza del Campo, after a steep and narrow climb on the roughly paved Via Santa Caterina leading into the center of the medieval city.[31]



Siena Mobilità was a consortium established in 2005, formed by Tiemme Toscana Mobilità, Busitalia Sita Nord e ByBus, to manage the local public transport in Siena, in its province and regional service to Florence and Arezzo. From 1 January 2018 Siena Mobilità operated by virtue of the bridge contract between the Regione Toscana and the company ONE Scarl.[32]

Since 1 November 2021 the public local transport is operated by Autolinee Toscane.[33]

Twin towns[edit]

Siena is twinned with:


A view of Siena from the Torre del Mangia


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  24. ^ Caravale, Giorgio, autor. (2016). Preaching and inquisition in Renaissance Italy : words on trial. Brill. ISBN 978-90-04-32545-6. OCLC 1030563659.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
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  27. ^ "Climate Data from the University of Siena's Meteorological Station (1961–1990) – Achivio Climatico ENEA". Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2015.
  28. ^ "Novartis, gli stabilimenti di Siena passano a Glaxo entro marzo. E attacca il governo sulla maxi-multa". Corriere. 28 January 2015.
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  33. ^ "Guida al primo giorno di servizio". Autolinee Toscane. Retrieved 10 June 2022.
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  35. ^ "Atlas français de la coopération décentralisée et des autres actions extérieures". Ministère des affaires étrangères (in French). Archived from the original on 26 February 2013. Retrieved 13 July 2013.


External links[edit]

  • Siena travel guide from Wikivoyage