Are you planning to spend a pleasant weekend in an Italian city? If you want to take a break from the chaotic everyday life and you’re looking for a fascinating destination full of history, Siena is for you! This Tuscan city known for its medieval brick buildings and the historic Palio, can surprise you with the many activities to be carried out in the open air while respecting the environment.
Here are 5 tips to better organize an eco-friendly weekend in this magical location.
1. Choose some eco-friendly accommodation
If you want to minimize the ecological footprint of your holiday, you can do so by choosing an environmentally friendly accommodation facility. Indeed, this is the first step to take if you want to organize a weekend away from the city in name of sustainability.
Among the various proposals in the area, we recommend Paradiso n.4. This is a charming B&B located in the historic heart of Siena, on the fourth and top floor of an ancient building. This means that from the rooms of the B&B, the guest has a complete view over the rooftops of one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany. The area where the building is located is perfect for those traveling on foot or by public transport. Indeed, we are located in the pedestrian area and very close to the main public transport stops. In addition, it is very easy to walk to shops, cinemas, and museums.
This charming B&B has a vintage style and aims above all to enhance the historical architecture of the building. The issue of sustainability is also reflected in the minimalist décor with the use of restored furniture and recycled materials. Simplicity, quality and relaxation will be the keywords of your experience here at Paradiso n.4.
2. Discover the most beautiful places in Siena on foot
Once in the city, go to the discovery of the symbolic places of the Tuscan town by moving on foot.
Piazza del Campo
This square has an original architectural shell shape. It is also known all over the world for hosting the Palio di Siena. From here also the so-called Sienese Terzi branch out. They are the three historical subdivisions of the city which in turn enclose the city quarters. The shell shape of the square is divided into nine sectors reminiscent of the Nine Lords who ruled the city from 1287 to 1355. The external part of the square is in pietra serena and during the Palio is covered with tuff.
Basilica di San Domenico
It is one of the most important churches in Siena and is located between the square of San Domenico and “via della Sapienza”. It was built in 1200 and enlarged in the following century. This beautiful church is most famous for its Renaissance chapel which houses the relics of Saint Catherine of Siena. Precisely for this reason, the church is also known as the Caterinian basilica. Even today it is the destination of numerous pilgrimages.
Officially the Metropolitan Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, it flanks “Piazza del Duomo” with its particular L-shape. It is one of the most beautiful treasures of Siena, full of history, art, and religion. Go to the discovery of the monumental Cathedral complex which includes the Cathedral with the Piccolomini Library, the Opera Museum, the Crypt, and the Baptistery.
3. Pedal along the most enchanting paths of Siena
The Tuscan city is perfectly suited to short and long itineraries on the saddle of your bike. SiPedala is the first project born with the aim of promoting urban circulation by bike. It is a concrete example of electronic bike sharing: easy to use, available 24 hours a day, and with zero environmental impact. In short, the perfect alternative to other means of transport. It is not only possible to move around the city by bike, but also out in more isolated paths immersed in the rolling Tuscan hills embellished by the colors of the vineyards, olive groves and cypresses.
We suggest 3 itineraries that you cannot miss. But for more information or to discover further routes, we recommend visiting Strade di Siena website.
In the historic center of Siena by bike
It is a real tour traced along the narrow streets, squares and monuments of Siena. Imagine what it would be like to be able to visit the most hidden corners of the historic center of this wonderful city by plowing through the characteristic pietra serena. A challenging journey due to the numerous climbs, but full of surprises. The Medici Fortress is the starting point of this itinerary which includes all the most famous places such as the Cathedral and Piazza del Campo.
Via Francigena by bike
A tour to discover the Tuscan villages and landscapes. In the Middle Ages Via Francigena was one of the main communication routes, so much so that cultural and commercial exchanges took place along the entire route. This road crosses the province of Siena from the north to the gates of Lazio. Among the stages of the route, there are also 4 Unesco sites. Departure from San Gimignano, continuation towards Siena, Buonconvento, Castiglioni d’Orcia up to Proceno, an Etruscan town on the outskirts of Lazio. Enjoy this tour immersed in history and nature.
In the saddle in the Chianti hills
The rolling Tuscan hills are known all over the world for the vineyards of one of the most popular Italian wines: Chianti. We could therefore not recommend this 106 km long Grand Tour that embraces characteristic villages and landscapes of Tuscany. It is a sensory cycling tour that will tell you the story of the great wine tradition of these territories. Castelnuovo Barardegna is the point of departure and arrival. It is a picturesque place where the techniques of production and conservation of wine are still handed down today. In addition to the medieval villages, the background of this tour will be sunflower fields, farms, vineyards and wine cellars.
4. Savour fresh and 0km food
The discovery of a city does not happen only through its art and history. One of the most important aspects of a locality is its culinary tradition. Indeed, the food and flavors of land can indelibly impress the memory of that city in the mind of the traveler. In these terms, Siena has a lot to tell.
To seek out the unique flavours of this part of Italy, we suggest that you eat in one of the many taverns that overlook the historic alleys. Some typical delicacies are cured meats, especially the Cinta Senese cured meats, Finocchiona and lard always accompanied by bread that is never lacking in Sienese cuisine. Then, beef spleen, soups such as Acquacotta alla contadina and Ribollita, Florentine steak and Sienese tripe. Do not forget to taste some typical traditional sweets such as Panforte di Siena, Panpepato, Ricciarelli, and the delicious cantuccini.
But, if you prefer to cook and you are looking for fresh ingredients typical of the area, we advise you to buy the products at the covered market of the column of San Marco. It is the new market opened by Campagna Amica foundation where you can find fresh, genuine and 0km products: seasonal fruit and vegetables, cheeses, extra virgin olive oil, fresh pasta, legumes and cereals and much more.
5. Visit the artisans’ workshops
Strolling through the streets of Siena you will happen to lay your eyes on the wonderful works displayed in the shop windows of the most important craft shops in the city. Not only are they part of the history of Siena and its traditions, but they jealously guard an art made up of techniques and processes handed down with passion and dedication. There is nothing more beautiful than remembering a trip through a small art object.
Craft shops tell the story of the past. Seeing a master at work will be like transporting you back in time when these trades were carried out by great Sienese and non-Sienese artists. Photographers, painters, potters and metal artisans will make their art available to make you daydream. Some artisans have specialized in metalworking. Others in the processing of Sienese ceramics and yellow marble, the rarest and most valuable in the city.
In the city, there are almost thirty craft shops that vary in the type of activity carried out. In addition to the processing of the aforementioned materials, some artisans have specialized in the processing of fabrics, wood, leather to make shoes, and much more. Terre di Siena web page has reserved a section entirely dedicated to the discovery of Sienese artisans and their workshops. Discover them now!
Now all you have to do is organize your weekend and set out to discover this Italian wonder.
Cover image via Canva Pro