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Image by Wolfgang Hasselmann

siena

the italian hilltop town

If you're planning a trip to Italy, or if you've already bought the tickets and you're looking for places to go, the region of Tuscany is certain to be on your list. After all, when people think of Italy, they're really think of Tuscany. Sort of like when you mention "America" to someone who has never been, but they've seen Seinfeld and Sex and the City, they have this idea that America is just New York City.

While Tuscany is an important part of Italy, it's by no means the only region in Italy. However, when in Italy... you might as well get a good dose of some of the more picturesque sides.

Siena is one of the few places where in Italy where I got to be a tourist and not a house sitter, or staying long-term at some rental. Of all the places I've been, Siena is maybe the best at having tourists. Do you want to bring home locally produced food? There's an entire grocery store dedicated to it. Do you like fresh pastries and long drawn-out coffees? Siena does too.

As someone who mainly lives in the South of Italy, I can't tell you the amount of times that I've seen a good idea either poorly or not executed.

Due to its small size, it's easy to write off Siena as a day trip (yes, I realize I said it's a day trip from Rome) but I think it would be a mistake to conflate size with power.

While it's not nearly the size of some of its neighbors, or even the more well-known cities in Italy (of which there are maybe four), it has a history that certainly gives it a sense of importance.

Siena is home the the oldest bank in the world (this is somewhat disputed, but let's just go with it): the Monte dei Paschi bank, which started as a mount of piety (hence the name). It also holds one of the oldest continually operating Universities, the Univeristy of Siena, where you will find piles of foreigners (read: Americans).

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