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Siena might be compact, but it's definitely got more than its fair share of art, history and – most importantly – places to people-watch over a big plate of local food. A top destination for culture vultures, Siena is famous for its thrilling bareback horse race (the Palio di Siena) and UNESCO listed city centre. The heart of the city is its central square, Piazza del Campo, which fans out towards the 17 historic neighbourhoods.
Hostels in Siena feature lots of classic bed and breakfasts as well as small historic hotels. You can stay in an 18th-century neoclassical palazzo, a traditionally decorated Tuscan villa or try a Siena hostel in a 15th-century fortress in the surrounding countryside. Some hostels have a café and an outdoor terrace, and put on a budget-saving free breakfast. Most have free Wi-Fi, and you can also find free bicycle hire. Outside the city, Siena hostels have swimming pools and on-site bars, as well as views of the rolling hills.
Siena is small and easy to walk around, and all its little neighbourhoods have plenty of historic character. The most central areas are Torre, Aquila and Onda, which border the main square. You'll find the city's top shopping street, Via Banchi di Sopra, in Civetta. For a really local experience, head out to visit the outskirts with views of the country. It's just a short bus trip from Siena.
Siena's got a bunch of top spots to visit. Photo-worthy Palazzo Pubblico (town hall), dates back to the 13th century – and it's just as impressive from up high. The nearby Tower of Mangia is worth a climb for panoramic views, which take in the orange rooftops of the medieval old town. Art lover? Don't miss the Duomo di Siena cathedral, where you'll find masterpieces by Pisano, Donatello and Michelangelo. When the sightseeing is done, join the locals for a glass of Chianti in one of the late night cafés on Piazza del Campo.
Florence is the nearest airport to Siena, although Pisa is a close second. You can get direct trains to Siena from both airports – it takes just over two hours from Pisa, and an hour and 40 minutes from Florence. Trains to Siena are also available from most Italian cities, which is handy if you're doing a tour of the country. The train station is 2km away from the city centre. It's an easy bus ride into town, taking less than 15 minutes.