Siena is . . . the city of the blessed Virgins and the “Balzana”; black and white; decisive, just as its heraldic symbol; passionate and contemplative; always climbing and descending; clear and at the same time obscure; steep and narrow streets; the red of the Piazza del Campo appearing blinding and suddenly. In the alleys, in the museums and oratories of the Contrada, the spiritual songs of the Palio evoke very ancient rituals and modern allegories, while during the evening the shuffling of soles on the deserted pavement is in contrast with the peacefulness of the green valleys providentially enclosed within the wall, which ancient administrators had erected hundreds of years before it became common practice.

Siena is also the Cathedral and the extraordinary panorama from the Facciatone; the Sala del Pellegrinaio in Santa Maria della Scala, the Libreria Piccolomini and the prestigious Accademia Chigiana; the enormous Medicean fortress that on the inside, at the Enoteca Italiana, harbors the most precious wines of Siena, Tuscany and the peninsula; sweet-smelling Trattorias, sweet spices, the sounds of the artisans and spouting fountains; Fontebrande and the mystery of the Diana, a famous river underneath Siena; the alchemy geometry of the Piazza, suggestively neo-Gothic and cathartic. And these are the reasons why “Siena opens up its heart more than any other place,” as the famous inscription reads on the Porta di Camollia.

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