Introduction to Siena for cruise visitors to the Port of Livorno. Things To Do, How to Explore on Your Own, Where to Shop and Best Places to Eat
The historical center of Siena is a UNESCO heritage site and considered one of Italy’s most beautiful medieval towns. The Piazza Del Campo is one of the most fascinating in the World and a delight to enjoy.
Among over a dozen highlights, the Cathedral, the Basilica Cateriniana di San Domenico, the Civic Museum, and the Pinacoteca Nazionale should not missed on a tour to Siena.
Siena - Piazza Del Campo
Photo by Jorge Royan CC-by-SA
Siena for Cruise Travelers
Naturally, Siena is one of the main destinations for cruise ships docking at the port of Livorno. All cruise lines offer shore excursions to Siena, which will take a full day - around 10 hours. All these excursions also include a stop in San Gimignano on the way back to the Port of Livorno. The most luxurious cruise lines will offer optional lunch, usually, at a very good restaurant.
Unfortunately, most cruise excursions will, in fact, just allow you free time for a quick snack and a bit of wandering around on your own. Typical cruise ship excursions tour the city in 2 to 3 hours with stops in the Church of San Domenico and the Piazza del Campo but just passing by the Cathedral and a few other major landmarks.
Walking through the historic streets of Siena is like stepping back in time and the cruise traveler will have the opportunity to experience the marvelous medieval ambiance of the city.
Siena On Your Own
Torre del Mangia, Siena
Photo by Jorge Royan CC-by-SA
However, on a shore excursion, you will not have enough time to explore Siena's beauty, take in its history and the magnificent artworks displayed in Siena's churches, palaces, and museums. But, because Siena is just a couple of hours from Livorno, it is easy to explore on your own.
To travel to Siena on a Rented Car or By Rail will allow you to visit at your own pace many of the highlights that are left out on shore excursions.
Exploring on your own is also the only way to enjoy good enough time at Piazza del Campo, to walk up the Torre del Mangia for spectacular views of Siena, to enjoy a memorable lunch, or discover the extraordinary artworks displayed at the Museo Civico and the Pinacoteca Nazionale. Discover How to Travel to Siena and Explore On Your Own.
Quick Bite and Lunch
Regardless of whether you visit Siena on a shore excursion organized by your cruise line or on your own, you should always make time to have a quick bite. Seating at any of the cafes on Piazza del Campo for a quick bite will cost you extra but the sight is breathtaking. There are also many other nice places to enjoy a snack of lunch on the side streets of the Piazza del Campo. Discover Where to Have Lunch or a Quick Bite in Siena.
Shops and Shopping
Shopping is an optional thing to do during the "Free Time" allowed when exploring Siena on a shore excursion. If looking for souvenirs, there are many shops around the Piazza del Campo and on the streets around it. If high-end fashion boutiques and designer outlets are your thing, you will find on Via Banchi di Sopra top names like Versace, Gucci, Prada, Burberry, Louis Vuitton or Armani. On Via di Città, the cruise traveler will find traditional Sienese crafts. Discover What to Buy and Where are the Best Shops in Siena.
Top Things to do and see
Strolling along Siena’s historic streets, visitors will be welcomed by gorgeous, well-preserved piazzas, monuments, churches and palazzos. With so many historical richness it is next to impossible to visit more than a couple of the top highlights, even when traveling on your own and having a little bit more time than on a Shore Excursion.
Duomo - Siena Cathedral
The impressive Duomo (Cathedral) is one of the city’s main attractions. Not only its massive structure is a wonder to behold, but the splendid works of art within its walls are a magnificent sight not to miss.
Photo by Chenspec CC-by-SA
Remember that Siena was once considered an artistic rival of Florence - works by resident artists like Lorenzetti, Beccafumi, and Martini can be found all over the city, along with works by artists like Michelangelo, Donatello, Perugino, or Bernini.
The Basilica Cateriniana of San Domenico is another major religious site to visit, and usually included on Shore Excursions. For those of Jewish faith, the Synagogue is a must. Discover the Churches and Synagogue of Siena.
Civic Museum - Palazzo Publico
The Civic Museum is a must-see in Siena. Housed in the Municipal Building aka Palazzo Publico, the main building of Piazza del Campo with its imposing Tower, the museum displays splendid artworks, and its interior decoration is just gobsmacking.
Equestrian portrait by Simone Martini
Photo: Public Domain
For those seriously interested in art, the Pinacoteca Nazionale is essential to visit. There are also a few other museums to explore, Namely, the Cathedral's Museum, the Ospedale di Santa Maria della Scala, the Archaeological Museum, the Galleria Chigo-Saracini, and the Palazzo Piccolomini. Discover the Best Museums of Siena.
Piazza del Campo and other landmarks
Besides the Piazza del Campo and the Gothic buildings that form this vast square, there are other landmarks to visit when exploring Siena.
Siena - Piazza Del Campo View From Torre
Photo by Mark Sehnert CC-by-SA
The Piazza Salimbeni and the 14th century Gothic Palazzo Salimbeni are a delight. The Palazzo Tolomei is one of the oldest in Siena, dating back to 1205, and so is the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, the home of the famous Accademia Musicale Chigiana. Discover the Top Landmarks of Siena.
The Palio Horse Race
If planning ahead, the cruise traveler will have the unique opportunity to experience more than the beauty Siena has to offer. The city is also the perfect place to get the adrenaline pumping during one of the most spectacular horse races in the world. Twice a year the city works itself up into a frenzy over the famous Palio horse race.
Palio Race, Siena
Photo by pilly78 pilly78 CC-by-SA
Locals and tourists alike pack themselves into Il Campo, a square that is considered the heart of the city, to watch as horses race around the piazza at a breakneck speed to win the title. The Palio takes place every year on the same exact dates: always between the June 29 and July 2 (first Palio) and between August 13 and August 16 (second Palio).
Palio 2015 Video
To learn more about the Palio check this Wikipedia article.
Good to know
The "Opa Si" Pass. Cruise passengers planning to travel to Siena on their own who wish to visit the Duomo of Siena (the Romanesque-Gothic cathedral) should bear in mind that the church is part of a monumental complex.
This complex includes the Cathedral but also the Piccolomini Library, the Gate of Heaven, the Baptistry, the Crypt, and the Museo dell'Opera. An all-inclusive single ticket - the "Opa Si" Pass - allows you to visit the entire complex for €20.00. It is advisable to buy this ticket online. Learn more on the Opera Duomo official website in English.
There are two official tourist offices in Siena in two excelent locations: on Piazza Duomo and on Piazza del Campo.
Winter (11/11 - 21/03) 8:30 am - 1:00 pm | 3:00 pm - 7:00 pm | Closed on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and holidays.
Spring and Summer (20/07-31/10) - Monday to Friday: 10.00 am - 7.30 pm | Saturday, Sunday and holidays 10.30 am - 6.30 pm. Check the offical website in English.