The city was established as a Roman colony by Augustus and it became one of the major cities in Europe around the 12th and 13th centuries. Siena is famous for its Palio, a spectacular festival event, which takes place around around Il Campo twice a year. This is a bare back horserace which has been held in this city since the 13th century.
Il Campo (Piazza del Campo) is virtually the centre of the old city and around its perimeter you can find numerous cafes and restaurants. This piazza was completed in 1349 and was created in 9 segments in honour of the Sienna council. Some of the places to visit around Il Campo is the Fonde Gaia (Gay Fountain), the Palazzo Publicco with its 97m bell tower, the Torre del Mangia, a palazzo still in use as Sienna's town hall and the Museo Civico with its Sala del Mappamondo containing Italy's greatest Italian frescoes.
The Duomo deserves a detailed visit so you can take in the various aspects of this cathedral which was built and decorated in various stages. The facade was designed in 1284 by Giovanni Pisano and the Campanile and a Gothic rose window were added in the next century. Various artists contributed into the design of the Duomo but a few not to overlook are the "Moses Striking Water from a Rock', the "Sacrifice of Isaac" by Beccafumi and Nicola Pisano's pulpit.
The Ospendale di Santa Maria Della Scala, opposite the Duomo, was the city's main hospital and it has been converted into a centre of art and culture. The Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana, the Gothic Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, the Pinacoteca Nazionale, the Sant' Agostino church and San Domenico monastery west of Piazza Matteotti are all worth a visit.