Siena Historic Centre Guided Walking Tour
Basilica of San Domenico
Panoramic view of the historic centre
Piazza del Campo
Medieval palaces of Siena
Duration of the tour: 2/3 hours
Suitable for children: yes
Accessibility for different ables: yes
Difference in level: 70 metres
Further information at the bottom (or click here)
A tour for those who come to Siena for the first time
Siena guided walking tour is an itinerary endowing you to discover all the beauty of this wonderful city which, thanks to the exceptional state of repair of its medieval buildings and unique traditions, has been recognized as a UNESCO heritage city. Already documented in Roman times, Siena developed in the Middle Ages thanks to the trades on the Via Francigena, the pilgrims’ path that, from northern Europe, allowed to set off on the journey to Rome. Thanks to its enterprising class of merchants, the town became one of the most important commercial powers of the Italian peninsula and rivalled with the nearby Florence.
We will begin the Siena walking tour starting from the San Domenico Square, the starting point of the historic centre which is where we already find the majestic Basilica of San Domenico, the largest religious building in Siena after the Cathedral. By a visit of its interior, we will go over some events of Saint Catherine of Siena’s life, a mystic woman of the fourteenth-century who was particularly bound to this church and to the Dominican Order which, even today, spiritually and materially looks after of the building. In a chapel dedicated to the saint – beautifully decorated with frescoes by Sodoma – it is where you can see an important relic of Santa Caterina. We will then admire some fifteenth-century masterpieces of Sienese art here preserved, such as the paintings by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and Matteo di Giovanni.
View of Fontebranda quarter
On the route of the Via Francigena
Leaving the church, we will look out to a panoramic point from where you can enjoy a spectacular view over almost the entire historic centre – characterized by the typical orange and pink shades of the local cotto (the terracotta) – on which, for the whiteness of its white marble, the bulk of the Cathedral stands out, as it was built on one of the highest hills of the town.
Once we have begun the itinerary through the picturesque streets of the centre, we see Palazzo Salimbeni, an outstanding building in the city, once owned to the Salimbeni family of the same name, which in the fourteenth-century was among the most powerful in the Republic of Siena. The palace is now the historic seat of Monte dei Paschi, one of the oldest banks in the world.
Siena Cathedral and its masterpieces
Going down again a part of the ancient Via Francigena route, we reach the San Cristoforo Church which, with its adjacent xenodochium, is a significant example preserved in Siena as an accommodation facility for pilgrims who passed through the town. In the square where the San Cristoforo church stands it is also where we will find Palazzo Tolomei, an unmatched refined example of the thirteenth-century palaces of Siena, wanted by the family of the same name that, in the mid-thirteenth-century, was the protagonist in the fierce struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines. Once we arrive in front of the Loggia della Mercanzia, we will discover why the statues depicting the protectors of Siena are all ‘threateningly’ looking towards the north, in the direction of Florence … We will then move to via di Diacceto to enjoy another breathtaking sight of the city, having the opportunity to appreciate in particular the Basilica of San Domenico – the one previously visited – and the suggestive Fontebranda quarter: your desire to capture this wonderful view in a photographic shot will be irresistible. Continuing through the enchanting medieval alleys, you will be speechless when, suddenly, we will have arrived in front of the Duomo. Built between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries, the Siena Cathedral is one of the most admirable examples of Gothic architecture in Italy, especially for its façade, built at the end of the thirteenth-century on a design by Giovanni Pisano. On request, I will accompany you on a visit to the interior which, besides being sumptuously decorated, preserves some masterpieces of the most famous Italian masters: in fact, there are works by Donatello, by Pintoricchio, the latter author of the Renaissance frescoes of the Piccolomini Library – to whose drawings Raphael also collaborated; next to the Library is the altar – also by Piccolomini – where Michelangelo’s youthful sculptures are kept. If after having seen these wonders you’d already think that absolutely worth visiting the Duomo, you cannot therefore believe my words when I will tell you that there are other masterpieces to admire, such as the sculptures by the great Roman artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini – preserved inside the Cappella del Voto – and the pulpit by Nicola Pisano, a pivotal work of all Italian medieval art.
Characteristic alley of Siena historic centre
The façade of the Siena Cathedral
The Via di Città and the Accademia Chigiana
Leaving the Duomo, we continue our Siena guided walking tour towards Piazza Postierla to admire other monuments of the city, such as the case torri (tower-houses), an important architectural testimony of medieval culture. Arriving in this square, you will see a detail that you have already noticed in other points of our route: the numerous presence of Lupe Capitoline (Roman She-wolves)… the reason for which are so many the figures featuring the roman symbol in Siena is a thing that we will find out along the way. We then move on by Via di Città, the street that once led to the ancient urban area of Siena from the “Campo” area; walking on this historic path, the evocative presence of the artisan shops, as well as that of aristocratic palaces, give to the street a look of refined elegance will certainly draw your attention. Heading towards Piazza del Campo, we pass in front of Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, home of the Accademia Chigiana, one of the most important institutions in the world music scene, founded in 1932 by Count Guido Chigi Saracini.
The enchanting Piazza del Campo
Passing through the suggestive Chiasso del Bargello, we will conclude our Siena guided walking tour in the famous Piazza del Campo, the authentic core of the town and one of the most ancient European squares, where every year the historic Palio race is held. When you arrive inside this square, you will be completely enraptured by the beauty of this space, surrounded by medieval buildings. Above all, what will strike you about the square is its particular trapezoidal shape and the division of the inside into nine segments; we will discover the important symbolism of this issue and how it is related to the history of Siena. In the background of the square stands the elegant Palazzo del Comune – better known as Palazzo Pubblico – now houses the Civic museum where great masterpieces of art are preserved, such as the extraordinary frescoes of the Buon Governo by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, the best-known medieval cycle of profane-themed paintings.
If you are an art lover, or are curious to learn more about Siena, I will accompany you on a visit to one of the important city museums, such as the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo (where the famous Duccio di Buoninsegna’s Maestà is kept), the National Pinacoteca (the gallery holding the largest world collection of gold foiled paintings), or the Santa Maria della Scala Complex (one of the oldest and largest hospitals in medieval Europe, in this day converted into a suggestive museum which hides an underground quarter of the town). Along the way, there will be suggestions on the shops where you can taste the typical Sienese sweets, as well as advice on the best restaurants and Trattorias where you can taste the typical local dishes, prepared according to tradition.
The Pulpit by Nicola Pisano, Siena Cathedral
Piazza del Campo
Important information about the tour (click here)
The activity here proposed is a private and not a joinable tour; this means that it is a tour only carried out on request and can be customised for starting time, meeting place and duration, depending on the customer’s needs.
Duration of the Siena private guided tour
Tour duration can be 2 or 3 hours; in both cases it is also possible to visit the interior of the Cathedral of Siena. With a 3-hour tour besides the Cathedral and Piazza del Campo, the route winds through the medieval streets and the area of one of the Siena Contrade (the Contrada is the typical medieval district whose organisation is linked to the historic Palio race).
Radio rental compulsory from 6 people onwards
From 6 people onwards, to facilitate listening to the guide explanations and ensuring social distancing outdoors and indoors, it is strictly recommended to rent radio devices with transmitters that ensure perfect listening to the explanations of the guide even from a distance; if you then visit the inside of the monuments, the rental of radios is compulsory for 4 or more people. The service is booked by the guide when the guided tour is requested, but the rental cost, which is € 1.00 per person for 2 or 3 hours, is charged to the customer and can be paid directly to the guide who will then take care to pay the supplier.
Carers or teachers of school groups do not pay for the rental of the radio.
Opening time of the Siena Cathedral:
Opening time of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo:
Opening time of the Porta del Cielo:
Prices of the Siena Cathedral
The cost of the entrance ticket to the Cathedral or to the other museums (in the event you want to visit them) is not included in the tour rate. The access to the Basilica of San Domenico is for free.
The guide does not provide transportation service.
To get further information, to book the tour or to get the contact of a licensed driver providing private transfer service, please write to:
Cost and reservation of the tour (click here)
Rate of Siena private guided tour
The rate for a 2-hours private guided tour is 120.00 € (price in total and not per person), for 3 hours 150.00 € (always price in total and not per person).
For further information about the rates, also to check the deals available, please visit the dedicated section by clicking here.
How to book the tour?
Once the day and time of the tour have been agreed with the guide, to book it is necessary to advance 50% of the tour value with a deposit to be paid by credit card.
Attention: pay the deposit only after agreed the date and the details of the tour with the guide. The remaining payment of the guided tour takes place after the tour by card, in cash or by bank transfer.
It is the responsibility of the guide to guarantee the guide service in any case. If, even for personal reasons, the guide is unable to perform the service in the date set with the client, it will be his concern to contact a trusted colleague who can replace him and therefore guarantee the customer service.
The cancellation of the tour from the client can be done free of charge by giving timely notice to the guide before 48 hours from the date and time agreed for the service. In this case the deposit paid in advance by the customer will be returned by the guide. If instead cancellation is made by the customer when there are less than 48 hours before the date agreed for the service, the customer will lose the deposit paid.
How to reach Siena? (click here)
Reachable via the A1 motorway (Siena-Bettolle exit if coming from Rome; Florence-Impruneta exit if coming from Milan; then continue towards Siena with the Bettolle-Siena or Florence-Siena junction. The tour starts in the Fortezza area. In this area there are free and paying car parks. The free car park spaces with white stripes are located along Viale Vittorio Veneto. Paying car parks, blue stripes, are located in Via Fruschelli (€ 1.50 hourly rate), or in the Stadio area (hourly rate € 2.00), the latter available in the days when no football matches are held.
By public Bus
|To get to Siena by public bus there are connections from Florence with rapid extra-urban lines (line 131). See the timetables of the FLORENCE-SIENA LINE. Check the timetables of the SIENA-FLORENCE RETURN LINE. Bus tickets can be purchased on the Autolinee toscane website, at retailers such as tobacco shops and newsstands or at the automatic columns near the bus stops.|
Siena can be reached by train with the Trenitalia service, thanks to the regional lines. Once you arrive at the Siena railway station, you can reach the historic centre:
By urban bus
(Lines 520, 530, 706). For a real-time consultation, visit the Autolinee toscane website.
By Taxi service
Available with positions in front of the train station or contactable at the number +39057749222, sending a message at the number +393483892305 indicating:
Organised groups/squadrons by tourist coach
|For organised groups/squadrons by tourist coach, there are drop-off/drop-on points for passengers in the urban centre of Siena (click here to view the points). Tourist coaches are subject to the payment of a checkpoint (further information by clicking here).|
By camper van
|Camper owners find rest areas around the historic centre. The closest one is in the area called Fagiolone. This is an equipped area with video surveillance (daily rate € 20.00; for more info click here. Other parking areas are in Fontebecci and the Palasport Mensana area. Another equipped area is the Camping Siena Colleverde.|