Given the approaching summer, the city of Siena is starting to get ready for the Palio (the well-known horse-race). On Sunday 14th May the streets of the city will be filled with flags, drums and joyful people. The reason is that the ‘Nobile Contrada dell’Oca’ will celebrate its Holy Patron (Santa Caterina da Siena) with the traditional ‘giro’: a route across the whole city during which a hundred people of the Contrada will pay homage, waving the flags, to the other Contradas, while in the air will resound the noise of the bells and the songs of the ‘contradaioli’.
Siena really cares about its centuries-old tradition and these moments are experienced in a very emotional way by the contradaioli. But obviously, also a tourist can let himself be carried away by the joy of those people: an idea could be to walk around the streets of the city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995, in order to explore the most remote and hidden areas.
Surely, everyone knows Piazza del Campo, the famous square shaped like a seashell where the renowned horse-race is held twice a year, and the Torre del Mangia. Around the perimeter of the square, there are some of the most luxurious apartments of the city and just two steps away from here there is the district of the Nobile Contrada dell’Oca. Santa Caterina da Siena, the Italy’s Holy Patron, was born in this zone, in a house which has been converted in an oratory. Another typical element of this area is Fonte Branda, the most popular and old fountain in Siena, which is mentioned by Dante e Boccaccio. The magnificent Basilica di San Domenico, located in a privileged position which offers a wonderful view of the city, can be reached across a hidden path which starts from Fontebranda.
Walking through the suggestive medieval lanes of the old town centre it is possible to visit the Terzo di Camollia, one of the three historical partition of the city, rich in stately mansions like the Palazzo Tolomei (the most antique private building of Siena) or the elegant Palazzo Salimbeni.
It would be a shame to miss out the wonder which the city has to offer!