Siena

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The walled city of Siena has preserved its original character more markedly than any other city in Italy. The central core of medieval alleys are closed to traffic,and can be as confusing as they are fascinating.

Everything is easily walkable from the great central square of the Piazza del Campo, where the Gothic Town Hall is located.

Another main square, Piazza del Palio, is the the site of Tuscany's most famous event, the Palio. This bareback horse race goes back to the 13th century – and many think it goes back even further, to the military training of the Roman Empire. 

Jockeys represent the 17 districts in Siena, and each horse is blessed at its district’s church. Accompanied by colorful pageantry and parades in original costumes, the race itself lasts for only about 90 seconds. The prize goes to the fastest horse, whether his jockey is with him or not.

The Siena Cathedral, or Duomo di Siena, was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. It is built with beautiful bands of colored marble, and has rich works of art and a unique black and white striped pattern inside.

The pulpit by Niccolo Pisano is a true masterpiece. The bell tower and façade were later designed by his son, Giovanni. It sits on a hill, looking across the valley to the equally large church of San Domenico, which sits atop its own hill.

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