Day Trips From

Day Trips From
Day trips from Siena

Day Trips From Siena

Tips and Advise for day trips from Siena by Road to Travel Inc.

Friday, July 22, 2016

A day in Serre di Rapolano

The hilltop charming village of Serre di Rapolano is often described as Siena in miniature. A short drive from its more famous neighbour, Serre di Rapolano makes a great destination for a day trip from Siena.

Stroll inside the medieval walls circling the village along narrow streets flanked by old red-bricked buildings and elegant palaces. Serre di Rapolano was built around the imposing castle that is still towering over the village reminding of the glorious old days. It has been converted to a luxurious hotel and restaurant. 

Serre di Rapolano
Enter the village through Porta Serraia, one of the villages old gates, and head to the narrow Via del Cassero that will take you to Serre’s historic buildings. The beautiful church of Santi Lorenzo e Andrea, Il Teatrino, a small elegant theatre built by a local noble for family entertainments, the Palazzo Gori Martini with an impressive façade in travertine stones and two massive stone lions on each side of the entrance, the lovely Santa Caterina church, Palazzo Imperiale. The central square, La Piazza, is dominated by the 14th-century Town Hall (Palazzo del Comune) and a beautiful chapel, La cappella di Piazza decorated with stunning Gothic frescoes. Order a coffee at the Bar Centrale and admire the lovely piazza listening to the bells ringing out the time from the small clock tower (Orologio di Piazza). 

You can learn a lot about the village’s history by looking at the streets’ names. Vicolo delle Setaie, named after the silk workers that once worked here will take you back in time with its charming shops untouched by the passing time. There is Via del Sale where a salt shop was located. On Vicolo del Forno Vecchio an old bakery was found a long time ago.

A street in Serre di Rapolano
One of the main sights in Serre is the old granary that used to belong to the powerful Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala in Siena and today houses an interesting museum, Museo dell'antica Grancia e dell'olio, which tells the story of ancient fortified granaries and olive oil production.

Every May, the villages hosts a beautiful festival, Serra Maggio, with a medieval costumed parade, flag-throwing competitions, open-air market, music and great atmosphere.

Photos by: Morgan Haye/Flickr, Francesco Croci/Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The most beautiful villages near Siena

Tuscany is choke-full of delightful picture-perfect hilltop towns. Pitigliano, San Gimigniano and Montepulciano are among the most popular and can get quite crowded in summer. If you are looking for quitter escapes near Siena, forget the well-trodden tourist routes and head to these breathtakingly beautiful villages.


One of the best-preserved medieval towns in Italy, Monteriggioni boasts spectacular medieval walls with fourteen towers enclosing the town. They remind of the turbulent past when the Sienese fought bloody battles with Florence for dominance. Every July the town hosts the Medieval Festival of Monteriggioni (“Monteriggioni di torri si corona”) and its streets fill up with locals dressed in period costumes.


Overshadowed by its neighbour Montepulciano, the village of Montefollonico offers Tuscan charm without the crowds. It is surrounded by a mighty medieval wall with seven towers and three imposing entrance gates. There many other sites dating back to the Middle Ages: the church of San Leonardo, Palace of Justice, ancient water cistern. The town is famous for its traditional sweet wine Vin Santo that is drunk with desserts and used to dip the Tuscan cantuccini biscuits. In December, Montefollonico celebrates its delicious wine with a lively annual festival.


Located 12 miles from Siena, the small village of Murlo is freighted with history. The old town remains untouched the passing of time with the beautiful Murlo Castle, San Fortunato Church and the elegant Palazzone. The nearby archaeological site of Poggio Civitale is a reminder of the days when Etruscans ruled the area. You can see the artefacts from the area in the lovely Museo Civico Archeologico in Murlo.


Strategically located on the via Francigena, the old pilgrim road running from France to Rome, the village is dominated by the impressive  11th century Rocca di Radicofani. Once an important formidable fortress in the area notorious for its never-ending feuds, today the fortress boasts spectacular views of the Val d’Orcia and Monte Amiata. 

Photos via Flickr by: Isabelle Puaut, Phillip Capper, Simonetta Viterbi

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Edible gifts to buy in Siena

A visit to Siena cannot be complete without sampling its gastronomic delights. Many of them make great edible gifts to take home to your friends and family. Sweet or savoury, they all have centuries of traditions behind them. Here is our quick pick to make you drool.


With origins going back to medieval times, this dense rich fruitcake has become part of local history. Many centuries ago, it was made with pepper and precious spices to be used not only as a delicacy but also cure some ailments. Later it became popular with nobles giving panforte to each other for Christmas. Today it is made all year around in local bakeries with almonds, candied citrus peel, cinnamon, honey cloves, dried fruit. 


Another sweet treat to take home, these chewy aniseed-flavoured cookies have a long history. During the Renaissance times, they were sold as a snack to travellers on horseback (hence the name, translated as “little horses”) to keep their energy up during long perilous trips among the Tuscan hills. Locals love them dipped in the dessert wine vin santo at Christmas time.


These soft melt-in-the-mouth cookies are hard to resist, so there is a risk that you might devour them all by yourself! Made with almonds, egg whites and sugar, the recipe for Ricciarelli dates back to the 15th century when they used to be served at lavish feasts of the rich and powerful. You will see them in some souvenir shops but the best ones are sold at small local bakeries by weight or packed in beautiful boxes.


The Antica Drogheria Manganelli (via di Città, 71-73) is like an Aladdin’s cave packed to the brim with delicious treasures. Its ancient shelves are laden with delicacies from across Italy. Locals come here to buy spices for home-made panforte. Those little pretty fragrant bags would make lovely gifts and some of them have recipes written on the pretty tags. 

Photos via Flickr by: Paola Kizette Cimenti, Wei-Duan Woo.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Exploring Pienza

The town of Pienza certainly packs a punch for its size. Located in the Val d’Orcia, in the southern part of Tuscany, tiny Pienza has beautiful Renaissance architecture, sweeping views of the surrounding countryside and a lovely laid-back atmosphere.

The town owes its stunning looks to Pope Pius II, who was born here. Before the 15th century Pienza was known as modest village of Corsignano, however Pope Pius II rebuilt it in accordance with humanist ideals of a perfect Renaissance city.

The trapezoidal picture-perfect town’s main square, Piazza Pio II, is flanked by a cathedral and three elegant palaces: Palazzo Piccolomini, Palazzo Vescovile and Palazzo Comunale. The cathedral, Il Duomo, has several magnificent altar paintings by 15th century Sienese masters. Precariously clinging to the edge of a cliff, Il Duomo has been threatening to slide down for centuries. You can see an impressive crack on the floor and a wall that has been slowly growing due to soil erosion.

Il Duomo in Pienza
On the right side of the cathedral stands the spectacular Palazzo Piccolomini built for Pope Pius II with an elegant three-arched loggia, hanging gardens and lavishly decorated rooms. From here you can admire sweeping vistas over the d'Orcia Valley with the Mount Amiata on the horizon. Some romantic scenes in Franco Zeffirelli’s movie Romeo and Juliet  were filmed in the palace.

The Bishop's Palace (Palazzo Vescovile) houses the town's Museo Diocesano, with a fine collection of altarpieces by Sienese masters. 

Street in Pienza
Make sure to pop in to one of the small artisan shops in Pienza and taste the famous local ewes' milk cheese pecorino. In September, the town hosts Fiera del Cacio celebrating the prized pecorino and local traditional produce. During the festival, you can watch an ancient game the Palio del Cacio Fuso in which players compete by rolling a small head of pecorino cheese around the fuso, a wooden spindle. All locals, adults and kids, gather around the square to watch the game and cheer for their team. 

Photos vis Flickr by: Sonja Pieper, Daniel Günther, Javier G.Valdivia.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The best food festivals near Siena

Food lovers visiting Siena are always spoilt for choice with excellent restaurants, bakeries and delicatessens selling the most delicious food. Local food festivals also offer great opportunities for immersing in traditions and sampling excellent Tuscan specialties. Almost every town in the area has their own dishes and customs, so you are bound to come across a food festival any time of year in one place or another. 

The beautiful village of Montefioralle has been hosting the Fritters Festival (Festa della Frittella) every March since the 1960s. The frittelle di San Giuseppe made to an antique local recipe from cooked rice and eggs are fried in a huge frying pan, two metres in diameter, on the piazza in front of the ancient Montefioralle castle. Hot and delicious, they are washed down with Chianti wine or sweet vinsanto. 

In October the small village of Vivo d'Orcia celebrates a Mushroom and Chestnut Festival (Sagra del Fungo e della Castagna). Two local teams make wooden stools and tables with antique saws that are later used for a feast. Traditional polenta, chestnut and porcini mushroom dishes are served in the streets and restaurants.


Cheese lovers from all over Italy gather in Pienza on the first Sunday in September to enjoy the Pecorino Fair and "Cacio al Fuso". Pienza’s sheep’s milk cheese is considered one of the best in Italy and can be sampled during the festival. The Cacio al Fuso, a cheese rolling competition, has ancient roots. Participants roll small heads of cheese aiming at a spindle and whoever hits it wins a prize.  

Pecorino from Pienza
During the Fall Festival (Festa d'Autunno) in Asciano that takes place in October, food lovers can gorge on dishes made with local white truffles (tartufo bianco delle Crete Senesi). Local farmers and artisans set up their stands along the town’s cobbled streets selling delicacies made with the precious tuber and other local specialties. Restaurants serve fragrant pasta dishes with white truffle accompanied by excellent local wines.

Photos via Flickr by: Jon Culver, Salvadonica Borgo del Chianti, Jonathan Cohen.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Sienese Clay Hills

South of Siena, towards the province of Arezzo and Mount Amiata, stretches a vast area called Crete Sienese, or Sienese Clay Hills. The landscape here seems almost deserted with barren grey-coloured gentle hills extending into horizon, patches of woods, cultivated fields, solitary farmhouses and isolated towns. Millions of years ago, water covered this area with and what we see now is the result of slow sediment erosion. 

Crete Sienese
For a taste of local culture head to the small medieval towns in the Crete Senesi. Located in the heart of the Crete area, Asciano has a beautifully preserved old centre partially surrounded by ancient walls. There is a beautiful Church of Sant'Agata with 16th century frescoes, an interesting museum of medieval art and archaeology as well as a couple of excellent restaurants. In September, the village hosts a traditional donkey race called Palio dei Ciuchi

Serre di Rapolano
The town of Buonconvento is surrounded by well-preserved medieval walls with seven towers. Here you can enjoy a stroll along the old streets and a delightful meal in one of the traditional restaurants. Another place that is worth a visit is Serre di Rapolano, a town famous for its hot springs with two excellent spas where you can pamper yourself and relax by a swimming pool with a glass of bubbly prosecco. If you are a foodie, do not miss San Giovanni d'Asso, a stunning hamlet overlooked by a formidable castle, where an annual white truffle takes place in November. You can visit a truffle museum, taste mouth-watering delicacies made with the precious tuber and go truffle hunting with a local guide. 

Follow the road cutting through the lunar landscape of the clay hills and you will arrive to the 14th century Benedictine Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Spend some time here admiring the spectacular frescoes depict the life of St. Benedict and listening to the monks’ Gregorian chants.
Between the villages Arbia and Leonina you will find the beautiful landscape art Site Transitoire by French artist Jean-Paul Philippe where you can sit and enjoy the silence and views of the clay hills.

Photos via Flickr by: Antonio Cinotti, Morgan Haye, Sampo Sikiö.

Monday, October 12, 2015

The charming village of Montefioralle 

If we had to pick the prettiest hamlet in Chianti it probably would be Montefioralle. Enclosed within its original walls, this tiny village is certainly one of the best-preserved mediaeval fortified villages in the area and in the whole of Tuscany. It sits on a hilltop just above Greve in Chianti, it is a great destination for a relaxing day trip from Siena or Florence

Montefioralle - Panorama
Wondering along narrow cobbled streets you will see characteristic tower houses and two sets of ancient walls, reminders of the days when the village was a stronghold at the forefront of the long bloody feud between Florence and Siena. During the Renaissance, rich silk merchants the Vespucci built a lavish country house on the main street, which has survived and can be recognized by a carved letter “V” and wasp above the doorway. Historians believe that the future explorer Amerigo Vespucci was born here.

At the top of the hill stands the Church of S. Stefano where you can admire beautiful frescoes dating back to the 13th century. Just outside Montefioralle is another example of rural Romanesque style in Tuscany, Pieve di San Cresci built in the 12th century. 

Montefioralle - Street
If you visit the village in March, you can enjoy the annual Festa di Frittelle during which locals cook sweet rice fritters in a giant pot in the central square that are eaten accompanied by dessert wine Vinsanto. In May Montefioralle hosts the Wine of the Castle Festival during which visitors can taste excellent Chianti from local producers.

Make sure to stop at the small family-run restaurant “Taverna Del Guerrino” with a delightful terrace overlooking the nearby green rolling hills. The menu is short and all dishes are made strictly with local ingredients: thick traditional tomato soup “Pappa al Pomodoro”, pasta with a wild boar sauce and juicy grilled steaks of local chianina beef.

Photos via Flickr by: Jon Culver, Dolf van der Haven.