Siena, a World Heritage Site
A remarkable legacy of history, art and landscape in the mediaeval style with all the intrigue that entails: this is the city of Siena’s greatest asset. An asset that, like the other cities in Tuscany that are within easy reach of Villa Iris, has also been recognised by UNESCO, which in 1995 declared the historic city centre a World Heritage Site.
The list of places of religious and cultural interest that contribute to the city's heritage is a long one, but first and foremost is the Duomo, or metropolitan cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta. Situated on the square of the same name, this is one of the most important churches in Italy in the Roman-Gothic style.
The Duomo is counterbalanced by piazza del Campo, one of the most famous public spaces in the world. This masterpiece of urban architecture is the result of an ingenious design that succeeded in exploiting the difficult hilly terrain on which the city of Siena stands to create a piazza that encapsulates the values of mediaeval Siena: a space where all the private buildings representing the historical districts converge to make the Palazzo Pubblico - symbol of the virtue of the city and the common good - the focal point.
In addition to the physical legacy that Siena represents, the city is also enjoys worldwide renown for its historic traditions.
The most famous of these is the Palio, the distinctive equestrian concourse in which all the districts of the city compete, in other words the seventeen historical subdivisions of the city inside the mediaeval city wall.
But the traditions also continue in the cuisine: for foodies who love the flavours of Tuscany, Siena also offers a rich culinary tradition that grew up in the flourishing mediaeval period. If you visit Siena whilst you're at Villa Iris, you must try Pici, a long, thick type of spaghetti made by hand and served with meat sauce. Roasts meats, game and loins of veal and beef are the traditional meat dishes, served either steamed or grilled. Those with a sweet tooth might like to try the famous Panforte and Ricciarelli. And to accompany a meal typical of Siena, choose from internationally renowned wines such as Chanti, Nobile from Montepulciano, Brunello from Montalcino or Vernaccia from San Gimignano.