Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Siena, Italy
By Svetlana Kovalyova
SIENA, Italy (Reuters) - Often overshadowed by its bigger and more powerful ancient rival Florence, Siena has always been a jewel in Italy's rich crown of cultural heritage and an ideal place to immerse yourself in the history of Tuscan art.
Old Siena, spread over three hills in southern Tuscany and surrounded by medieval walls, is relatively small and can be easily explored on foot. But its magnificent churches and palaces contain such a wealth of art that a weekend is hardly enough to discover them all.
Early December is a perfect time to explore Siena. The crowds of summer tourists have dwindled and the city's terracotta-colored rooftops provide a stunning contrast to the bright autumnal foliage in the surrounding hills.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a 48-hour visit.
6 p.m. - Choose a place to stay in the historic centre where options range from modestly priced hotels like Pensione Palazzo Ravizza (www.palazzoravizza.it) to the luxury Grand Hotel Continental (www.grandhotelcontinentalsiena.com)
If you also want to enjoy peace and quiet and reconnect with nature on your break from the stressful city life, book yourself into one of many farm resorts which dot the rolling hills around Siena. Secluded Villa Ferraia, a 13th century hamlet turned into an exclusive resort, offers star-watchers its own astronomical observatory. (www.villaferraia.com)
7 p.m. - Kick off your holiday with a glass of local wine, traditional Chianti or its upscale cousins known as super-Tuscans, such as Ornellaia or Sassicaia, at one of the numerous wine bars lining meandering cobbled streets of the old city. Continued...