Siena: a step back to medieval Tuscany

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA living monument to the majesty of classic Italian architecture, Siena has changed little since the 13th century. Any visitor will soon understand the reason why: when something is already so perfect, why would you take the trouble to change it? With one of the most ancient universities in the world as well as a beautifully preserved old town, Siena is a charming place to live as well as visit, with second homes here becoming increasingly popular among wealthy professionals. Less tourist-heavy than neighbouring Florence and Pisa, Siena is a true Tuscan gem that’s well worth seeking out.

At the centre of this mediaeval city sits Il Campo, a huge piazza that is the heart of not only the UNESCO World Heritage-protected old town, but the entirety of Siena. The whole population turns out to watch the twice-yearly horse race known as the Palio, in which ten bareback riders representing different wards of the city compete dressed in appropriate colours. A more modern claim to fame comes from its use as a backdrop for the James Bond film Quantum of Solace, as well as numerous appearances in other Hollywood productions making use of the historic surroundings.

Rising up above the skyline of the city is the Duomo of Siena, the Cathedral di Santa Maria Assunta, which provides an awe-inspiring example of the Romanesque-Gothic architectural style. Beautiful, hard-stone mosaics make up the floors showing 56 different scenes, but these are almost overshadowed by the other striking artworks that line the cathedral, including a marble pulpit by Pisano and a baptismal font made famous by Donatello.

All that historic sightseeing can be thirsty work, but luckily Tuscany boasts some fantastic wines and Siena is in an ideal position to take advantage of this. The city offers several conventional two-hour wine tasting sessions covering Italian and Tuscan wines, but you’ll also find some truly spectacular wine bars, often housed in exotic locations, which in certain cases stock over 1,500 different vintages.

When it comes to exploring the countryside, a short walk out of town could place you in the middle of anything from a mediaeval hill town to a cluster of grape vines and olive trees. Tuscany is also lucky enough to be the home of hundreds of cypress trees that grow both in the middle of fields and alongside the roads, making walking down the long dusty paths an absolute pleasure. Many Tuscan residents prefer to cycle around their cities and villages, and bicycles can often be the most convenient way to travel.

With such naturally spectacular surroundings, it’s no surprise that Siena is also home to some truly luxurious real estate. From opulent apartments in the city centre to rustic farmhouses set on acres of private land, Engel & Völkers can help you find a Tuscan property to suit your every need. Whether you’re looking for a fully modernised home or a historic hamlet in need of renovation, our expert local agents can guide you in the right direction. You can visit our Siena shop’s Facebook page to find out more, or go straight to the E&V website to start browsing the exceptional properties available.

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