Siena is a typical tuscan hill city near the Crete Senesi in the Chianti region. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist site and famous all over the world for its art, museums, the Palio and a medieval cityscape that has been left unaltered for ages.
First settlements date back to the time of the Etruscans but Siena was officially founded by the Romans as it was first mentioned in some documents date from AD 70. From the late 11th century, Siena grew very important when the Republic of Siena was created. It was defeated by the Duchy of Florence (XVIth century), after fierce rivalry.
The Palio di Siena is the most popular horse race in the world and attracts thousands tourists. It is held twice a year, on July 2nd, Palio della Madonna, and on August 16th, Palio dell'Assunta. Ten horses and riders representing ten contrade (city wards) circled Piazza del Campo in Siena,
Siena's most famous historical sights are the Duomo Cathedral (XIIIth century) in Piazza Duomo (Xth century), Piazza del Campo (Xth century) a shell-like shaped square, Palazzo Comunale (XIIth century) and its Torre (tower) del Mangia (XIVth century), the San Giovanni Baptistry (XIVth century), the church of Santissima Annunziata (XIIIth century) to mention but some of magnificent churches, museums and historical buildings which are scattered through the city wards.
Panforte, a traditional dessert containing fruits, honey and nuts eaten at Christmas and Ricciarelli, biscuits with an almomd base with sugar, honey and eggs and a surface sprinkled with cofectioner's sugar, both originate in Siena which has always had an important cake production.