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Things to do in Siena

Catch a steam train to quintessential Tuscany

Chug off to a food fair or autumn truffle market in UNESCO World Heritage country via steam train. The Val d'Orcia, south of Siena, is quintessential Tuscany. Lap up the neat vineyards, clusters of cypresses and farms perched on limestone ridges. Treno Natura (tel: +39 0577 280 551; offers day trips, book well in advance.

Climb the stairway to Heaven at Siena Cathedral

Clamber around the rooftops and rafters of Siena Cathedral with a 'Gateway to Heaven' tour (tel: +39 577 286 300; This new tour ascends the spiral staircases of Porta del Cielo to show off its starry vaults and incredible panorama of Siena's skyline. Other high points include the Torre del Mangia and Museo dell'Opera roof.

Devour the pastry shop crawl

The Sienese have a sweet tooth, and the city's pasticcerie (pastry shops) have been exporting piquant panforte (fruit and nut cake) since medieval times. They were once the preserve of nuns, who guarded their secret recipes, but now anyone can enjoy them. Nannini (tel: +39 577 236 009; and Pasticceria Bini (tel: +39 577 280 207) sell the city's best.

Head to the vineyards on a Vespa

If you're tired of museums and Madonnas, head for the plonk-producing hills on a classic Italian moped. The Siena Vespa Tour ( hits the Chianti trail and includes rustic lunch on a wine estate. You can even ride pillion with a guide if you think you might overdo the white wine.

Improve your lingo and linguine at the same time

Brush up your Italian while mastering Tuscan recipes and exploring the city. Scuola Dante Alighieri is Siena's best language and cookery school (tel: +39 0577 49533, Classes are set up so mornings are spent grasping the Italian tongue while in the evening, Tuscan cookery lessons teach you to reward your tastebuds.

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Featured Hotels


Hotel Garden

This hotel complex, situated around a 17th-century villa on the outskirts of the city, is convenient for business travellers. Set in parkland, it features a swimming pool, tennis courts as well as conference and banqueting facilities. You can also enjoy a terrace bar and cable television in every room.

Grand Hotel Continental

This 5-star hotel, conveniently situated on the city's smartest shopping street, has colourful frescoes in many of the sumptuous rooms: a reminder that it was once a wealthy family's villa. The SaporDivino restaurant is considered one of the best in the city.

Certoso di Maggiano

This former monastery on the outskirts of Siena is now a luxurious hotel with just 17 rooms. Founded in 1316, it has airy, vaulted rooms. Set in 30 acres of grounds, Certoso di Maggiano has a heated outdoor pool, tennis courts, Renaissance chapel, a vineyard and a helipad.

Hotel Italia Siena

Well situated for those arriving at the city by train, this friendly 3-star hotel is set outside the city walls and is convenient for drivers as it has a few private parking spaces. Rooms are clean and bright, and its superior and executive rooms have soundproof windows.

Hotel Athena

Inside the historic centre, just a 10-minute walk from the Piazza Campo, this smart hotel boasts a rooftop terrace where you can enjoy a cocktail and watch the sun turn Siena's buildings rose-coloured. Rooms have tiled floors, many also have balconies, and there is free Wi-Fi throughout.

Hotel Alma Domus

In the heart of the city centre, this hotel is actually part of ancient compound containing the Sanctuary of Saint Catherine. Watch the world go by from your balcony or take in the wonderful views of the cathedral. Rooms are basic but not shabby. Free Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast also included.