The Heart of Siena
Considered one of Europe’s greatest medieval squares, the Piazza del Campo—or, simply, Il Campo—has been at the heart of life in Siena since it began as a marketplace and meeting spot for the area’s villages; the nine-lined, fishbone-patterned red-brick pavement was laid in the 14th century, giving the shell-shaped square more formal boundaries. Today, Il Campo hosts all the city’s major festivals and events, like the biannual Palio horse race, and is home to a variety of notable sites, including the 14th-century Torre del Mangia brick-faced tower, and the Palazzo Pubblico and Civic Museum, with its rich collection of Sienese School masterpieces. The cafés and restaurants around the square provide welcome shade and sustenance—and great people-watching opportunities—after a day spent exploring the city.
By Sandra Ramani, AFAR Contributor
Town Square at the Heart of Siena
Piazza Del Campo, the main town square, is the heart and center of the ancient town of Siena, Italy. This walled city, with its narrow alleys and brick buildings, offers a trip back in time. The town square is used during the summer for Siena's biannual Palio, or horse races. The cobblestone pathways are covered with dirt and transformed into another venue. The rest of the year, it's a wonderful place to come sit out at a cafe, restaurant, or in the square itself to people watch, meet friends, or soak up the local culture. A few long exposure night shots for you photographers is a treat as well.
The beautiful Tuscan city of Siena was one of my favorite stops in Italy. Most of the ancient walls (11th century) that enclosed Siena are still standing. Siena is surrounded by olive groves and vineyards. I wandered through the alleys and streets of the city and discovered its treasures. The big Piazza del Campo is famous for its Palio - the very competitive and serious horse race of Siena held on July 2nd and August 16th each year. The days leading up to the race are filled with festivities and excitement. The Campo is the heart of Siena. In it, you see the Torre del Mangia (1325) which is 290" high. There are great views from the top if you are willing to climb the 503 steps to get there. You also see the large, beautiful Fonte Gaia (fountain). There are many shops, cafes, and restaurants in the Campo where the residents and tourists gather. The Cathedral is full of Tuscan art. The floor is stunning with mosaics and marble panels. Be sure to visit the Basilica di San Domenico (Chapel of St. Catherine with her head and finger). She is the Patron Saint of Europe and the Casa di Santa Caterina which was St. Catherine's home. The Basilica di San Francisco, a Gothic cathedral is huge and another landmark. Siena's foods and wines make dining a memorable experience. I recommend the Certosa di Maggiano... a 14th century monastery that is now an upscale hotel. Just outside of town and peaceful. www.certosamaggiano.com Info: www.discovertuscany.com/siena
By Connie Hand
A Lazy Hot Afternoon
Time to catch an afternoon nap siesta in the square
Il Campo, 53100 Siena SI, Italy