Beautiful medieval walled city in the heart of Tuscany, at one time a powerful City-state rivalling nearby Florence, and home to what is probably the oldest bank in Europe, Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded in 1472.

At the heart of the old city is the shell-shaped terracotta bowl of the Piazza del Campo, where twice a year the city stages its famous horse race, the Palio, fiercely contested by the 17 contrade of the city.

Siena is a very peaceful city to walk around (although the Italians themselves are famously animated) and traffic is not permitted in the centre. The major monuments - the palaces, cathedral, museums - all merit a visit from anyone interested in the history of the region. Although popular with tourists, it benefits from being a little too far from Florence for most day-trippers. It is certainly worth the trip: while Florence may be full of beautiful things, Siena simply is beautiful.