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Siena

This compact, pink-tinged city is a delight to discover on foot, from the shell-shaped Campo to the galleries full of soft-eyed Sienese madonnas. Siena is a Gothic city built on a human scale, and is effortlessly civilized and at ease with itself. Where monumental Florence has large squares and masculine statues, Siena has hidden gardens and moody wells. Siena has also made a virtue of conservatism; stringent medieval building regulations protect the fabric of the city.

In keeping with Sienese mystique, the city’s origins are shrouded in myths of wolves and martyred saints. The ancient republic flourished from 1147 until 1529, and shortly afterwards, Siena became part of the Tuscan dukedom. Change is anathema to the Sienese and the citizens are never more themselves than when celebrating the legendary Palio horse race. Still today, Siena’s tumultuous history as arch-rivals of Florence resonates in the souls of the Sienese, particularly during the Palio.

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