An UNESCO a World Heritage Site
Siena is a city in Tuscany, Italy. It is the capital of the province of Siena. The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008. Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year. Siena, like other Tuscan hill towns, was first settled in the time of the Etruscans when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. The Etruscans were a tribe of advanced people who changed the face of central Italy through their use of irrigation to reclaim previously unfarmable land, and their custom of building their settlements in well-defended hill forts. A Roman town called Saena Julia was founded at the site in the time of the Emperor Augustus. Some archaeologists assert that Siena was controlled for a period by a Gaulish tribe called the Senones.
According to local legend, Siena was founded by Senius and Aschius, two sons of Remus and thus nephews of Romulus, after whom Rome was named. Supposedly after their father's murder by Romulus, they fled Rome, taking with them the statue of the she-wolf suckling the infants, thus appropriating that symbol for the town. Additionally they rode white and black horses, giving rise to the Balzana, or coat of arms of Siena with a white band atop a dark band. Some claim the name Siena derives from Senius.
The Siena Cathedral (Duomo), begun in the 12th century, is a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Its main façade was completed in 1380. The original plan called for an ambitiously massive basilica, the largest then in the world, with, as was customary, an east-west nave. However, the scarcity of funds, in part due to war and plague, truncated the project, and the Sienese created a subdued version from the original plan's north-south transept. The east wall of the abandoned original folly of a nave still stands; through an internal staircase, visitors can climb for a grand view of the city.
The Siena Cathedral Pulpit is an octagonal 13th-century masterpiece sculpted by Nicola Pisano with lion pedestals and biblical bas-relief panels. The inlaid marble mosaic floor of the cathedral, designed and labored on by many artists, is among the most elaborate in Italy. The Sacristy and Piccolomini library have well preserved Renaissance frescos by Ghirlandaio and Pinturicchio respectively. Other sculptors active in the church and in the subterranean baptistry are Donatello, Lorenzo Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia and others. The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo contains Duccio's famous Maestà (1308–11) and various other works by Sienese masters. More Sienese paintings are to be found in the Pinacoteca, e.g. 13th-century works by Dietisalvi di Speme.
Siena, Tuscany (Wikipedia)