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The ancient Complex of Santa Maria della Scala in Siena

Constructed along the Via Francigena, Santa Maria della Scala was one of the first hospitals in Europe, with its own organization set up to care for pilgrims, assist the poor and provide for abandoned children: today with more than 200.000 cubic metres and a thousand-year history of hospitality and healthcare, the Santa Maria Maria della Scala has a strategic position in the fascinating urban built-up area. Built in front of the Cathedral, it occupies the hill of the Dome, which conserves the most ancient traces of human presence.
Here a new extraordinary cultural and civic adventure takes place: the restoration of the 'Spedale grande' and its trasformation in one of the biggest european cultural centres.
Today, while the restoration is still a work in progress, it's possible to visit more than an half of the entire area. Besides to the impressive monumental settings where the visitor can admire the precious and extended historical and artistic holdings (Pellegrinaio/Pilgrims' Hall, the Cappella del Manto, the Old Sacristy, the Cappella della Madonna, the Church of the Santissima Annunziata, the Oratories of the Compagnia di Santa Caterina della Notte and of Santa Maria sotto le volte), it's possibile to visit: the Archaeological Museum, set up in the magnificent underground, the Art Museum for Children, the Center of Contemporary Art.

Visit the site: http://www.santamariadellascala.com

Historical centre of Siena: The duomo

This is the complex of the Cathedral: the Duomo of Siena

 http://www.operaduomo.siena.it

 

Where to Eat in Siena

In Siena you can eat very well, but you can also eat bad and spend a lot.

The main problem is that in some restaurant the see that you are a tourist: they know that probably is the first and last time that they see you and they give you the oldest food that they have in the kitchen...but not everywere is so...

I suggest to you some restaurants where i go to eat, here you eat special food and the price changes in base of the type of restaurant.

RISTORANTE GROTTA SANTA CATERINA:    www.bagoga.it

high cousin, good wine, price middle, great location

http://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g187902-d1088322-Reviews-Grotta_di_Santa_Caterina-Siena_Tuscany.html

 

RISTORANTE OSTERIA BIGELLI:   www.osteriabigelli.it

 

good cousin, good wine, price middle to be in Piazza del Campo‎, good pizza, good location

http://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g187902-d2161093-Reviews-L_Osteria_del_Bigelli-Siena_Tuscany.html

 

TRATTORIA, PIZZERIA LA COLONNA (this is the reastaurant of my husband Francesco)

good cousin, good wine, low price, good pizza (slim and without yeast), simple location

http://www.tripadvisor.it/Restaurant_Review-g187902-d3607918-Reviews-Pizzeria_La_Colonna_Di_Burroni_Francesco-Siena_Tuscany.html

 

The markets

Historical center of Siena: Piazza del Campo

PIAZZA DEL CAMPO

Is the main public space of the historic center of Siena  and is regarded as one of Europe's greatest medieval squares. It is renowned worldwide for its beauty and architectural integrity.

The open site was a marketplace established before the thirteenth century on a sloping site near the meeting point of the three hillside communities that coalesced to form Siena: the Castellare, the San Martino and the Camollia. Siena may have had earlier Etruscan settlements, but it was not a considerable Roman settlement, and the campo does not lie on the site of a Roman forum, as is sometimes suggested. It was paved in 1349 in fishbone-patterned red brick with ten lines of travertine, which divide the piazza into nine sections, radiating from the mouth of the gavinone (the central water drain) in front of the Palazzo Pubblico. The number of divisions are held to be symbolic of the rule of The Nine (Noveschi) who laid out the campo and governed Siena at the height of its mediaeval splendour between 1292-1355. It was and remains the focal point of public life in the City. From the piazza, eleven narrow shaded streets radiate into the city.

At the foot of the Palazzo Pubblico's wall is the late Gothic Chapel of the Virgin built as an ex voto by the Sienese, after the terrible Black Death of 1348 had ended, over the chapel there is the Torre del Mangia, the tower, that you can visit...if you have good legs!

 

If you enter in the “Palazzo comunal, the Pubblic Building, you can go to visit the “sala del Mappamondo” with the paint of “Buon Governo”: here Siena is represented, during the government of nine, as at the center of the world…and the world of 1300 is represented by the lands conquered by the Republic.

 

Go to visit the Civic Museum, it is opened every day from 10.00 am to 19.00 pm and  the “Magazzini del Sale”, the “Loggia della Mercanzia”, where is conserved the original “fonte Gaia”, the one that you see in the square of Piazza del Campo is not authentic.

 

PIAZZA DEL MERCATO

A the rear of this square, we find another square: less famous but not less beautiful: still today a market is still done here: Piazza del Mercato (Mercato's square)

 

It is one of the most important and les known square of the city and it is older, much more older the Piazza del Campo: in 1200 this square was the seat of the Mint of the Republic of Siena and also the seat ok the city market.

 

The big canopy that you see in the center of the square, is the reproduction made in 1800 of the original, and is called by people of Siena: “Tartarugone”, for his shape, which is similar to a big tortoise. Even today, each third sunday of each month, you can find here the market, here you can buy, fruit, vegetables, cheese and meat, product only by peasantry of Siena. Under Piazza del Mercato there is a Valley, its incredible as in a medieval city you can find so much trees and green!

 

Go to visi the “Orto de Pecci”, a green space were you can find pets as monkey, chickens, rabbits, ducks, there you can make a pic nic or eat at the restaurant (which is very cheap) or visit the medieval kitchen garden.

 

A place specially good for children.

 

The Medieval aqueducts (Bottini) of Siena

 

The “Bottini” are medieval aqueducts sited underground the city of Siena, they are underground aqueducts, dug in the sandstone, which after collecting the infiltration of rainwater and veins in the surrounding hills, fueling public fountains and many private wells.

As you see in the map over (that is the map of the historycal center of Siena), the Bottini are like a river under the city.

 Both in the wars in medieval and modern, these galleries were used to bring supplies to the city, as this network of tunnels extends to the surrounding countryside over Siena 10 km outside the city.

Medieval supply source (Fonti) of Siena

Monteriggioni

Sangimignano

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, famous for its medieval towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town. The town also is known for the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the Vernaccia grape which is grown in the area.

San Gimignano was founded as a small village in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans. Historical records begin in the 10th century, when it adopted the name of the bishop Saint Geminianus, who had defended it from Attila's Huns.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance it was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican, as it sits on the medieval Via Francigena. In 1199, during the period of its highest splendour, the city made itself independent from the bishops of Volterra. Divisions between Guelphs and Ghibellines troubled the inner life of the commune, which nonetheless, still managed to embellish itself with artworks and architectures.

On May 8, 1300, San Gimignano hosted Dante Alighieri in his role of ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany.The city flourished until 1348, when the Black Death that affected all of Europe compelled it to submit to Florence. San Gimignano became a secondary centre until the 19th century, when its status as a touristic and artistic resort began to be recognised, today is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sangalgano

You find it at 30 km ovest of Siena, 35 minutes by car from the Capanna of Casello.

Of St. Galgano, you know that he died in 1181 and who converted after a disorderly youth, made up of wars and unprecedented violence, he retired to life as a hermit to devote himself to penance, with the same intensity with which it was first given to violence.

The highlight of the conversion, took place on Christmas Day of 1180, when Galgano, disgusted by the atrocities committed by him, his sword stuck in the ground as a sign of renunciation of violence and how to use it as a sign of the cross to pray rather than as a weapon to kill: in the Rotunda, located in an elevated position with respect all'abbazzia, there is a boulder from which sprout slits and a segment hilt of a sword corroded by age and rust, now protected by a plexiglas case.

 On the site of the death of St. Galgano, who was declared a saint in 1185, a chapel was erected by Pope and over the years it became an abbey was consecrated in 1288.

With the plague of 1348 the abbey was abandoned in the years lead roof was dismantled to make other buildings and finally a lightning destroyed the bell tower.

In 1789 it was deconsecrated and turned into a farm: Today is a mysterious place, and in summer you can go there to see many famous concerts of Lyric and classical music.

Brolio Castle

The first stones of Brolio Castle date back to the middle ages. The castle passed into the hands of the Ricasoli family thanks to an exchange of lands in 1141. Brolio, on the border between the territories of Siena and Florence, soon became the stage for all the disputes of the period, representing the Florentine bulwark against the fearsome Siena. Through the centuries the castle has suffered attack and destruction in numerous historical battles, from Aragonese and Spanish attacks during the fifteenth century, to disputes in the seventeenth century right through to bombings and artillery attacks during the second world war.

 Barone Ricasoli is the fourth longest-lived company in the world in the same place and the second in the wine sector, the oldest winery in Italy: Chianti was born after more than thirty years of research and experiments, than Baron Bettino Ricasoli wrote down the formula in a famous letter addressed to Professor Cesare Studiati at the University of Pisa…

The castle is surrounded by 240 hectares of vineyards, forming part of the farm’s lands, making it the largest in the Chianti Classico area: 1,200 hectares in the communes of Gaiole and Castelnuovo Berardenga

 Here you can have Guided visit to the castle, the vineyard and the Barone Ricasoli wine cellars.

Sant'Antimo Abbey

Is one of the famous Abbey of Toscany, located at 10 minutes by car from Montalcino, the origins of the abbey date to a small oratory built here, one the location of a former Roman villa, in 352 at the death of Anthimus.

In 770 the Lombards commissioned the construction of a Benedictine monastery, which had also to act as a hotel for the pilgrims directed to Rome. At his apex, the abbey possessed 96 castles, terrains and other lands, as well as 85 monasteries, churches and hospitals

 

Montalcino

Pienza

Thermal baths

The Etruscan tombs

The natural park of Maremma

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