I guess you all have noticed that the articles I am writing in these days all date back to last year and they do not come out regularly…the reason why is that my computer is broken, I still need to fix it, and my home Internet connection is really pretty sh***y, so much bad that I cannot even post photos on my articles so I apologise for delay and I will try to catch up better with my travels; I had a lot in the meanwhile and still have not written about them. Ssssoooo in this article, I will tell you about this new discovery for me: The so called urban exploration.
How did I find this out:
Back to March, when my boyfriend came to pay me a visit in siena, where I study languages at university, we wanted to explore deeper the city as he had never been nor visited this lovely city and even if, I had been living there for 7 months, I still had not explored the city in a proper way. Both of us have not car – anyway the car is useless in siena because the historical centre is inaccessible for cars if you are not a resident and the best corners cannot be reached by such a transport – so by chance I found this italian website on Internet entitled “urban exploration”. On the website, they displayed a map of siena with the path we had to follow and since we were interested, we started roaming around the city, discovering for real one of the cities I like the most.
1. Fortezza Medicea: The beginning of our urban exploration
I am very ashamed of myself but yeah, I had never seen nor visited this imposing fortress located in the middle of the city before getting to know about this place from that website! But as soon as I discovered, it became one of my favourite places in Siena. It is huge, green, peaceful and offers a wonderful glimpse of the city: from here, you can spot the “Duomo di Siena”, that is to say the main cathedral, with its tower and the old part of Siena. Where the fortress nowadays is, back in the past, a Spanish fortress could already have been found but later it was destroyed by the inhabitants of Siena when they revolted against the Spaniards, who ruled the city in the 16th century. Despite this, after a few years, the Spaniards, with the help of De Medici, got back the city and in order stop any resistance from the inhabitants, they decided to build this fortress again.
2. Basilica di San Domenico: The second step
It is very easy to find if you just visited the De Medici Fortress
since it is just 5 minutes away
and the way to reach there is always straight
. The church was built by the Dominicans
, a group of friars founded by Saint Dominic, on a territory given to them by a Noble but it was modified and enlarged several times throughout the time
. It also survived fires, military occupation and earthquakes
. The inside of the church is very huge
and the most important part is Saint Catherine’s chapel
that treasures the relic of this Senese Saint. The church can also be reached from another way
, which I discovered, offering a beautiful sight over the Basilica
: the street is called “Via di Fontebranda
” and starts from “Piazza del Campo
“, the city centre’s square.
3. Santa Caterina from Siena Sanctuary
In order to reach the Sanctuary, you must walk along the street called “Via di Camporegio
” that, in my opinion, is the best place
in the whole Siena because from this street you can have a beautiful glimpse over the medieval part of Siena
** The ancient roofs of the city, worn down by the time and the weather, make me think of the epic adventures and history that unfolded in these narrow and old alleyways.
Just under the Basilica there is a nice panoramic spot that sometimes is open and sometimes is closed
:/ I do not know what criteria they use to open or close but if it is open, it is more than a visit worth! I went there many times to guide around my hosts and every time I am amazed just like the first time I saw the view from there.
Then, from Via di Camporegio
just proceed straight and follow the small alleyway called “Vicolo Campaccio
” that will lead you to the Sanctuary
. This religious complex was just the house where the family of this Senese Saint used to live
back in the past. It is surrounded by loggia and porticos with a cute Renaissance well
where you can take nice photos. Inside the Sanctuary a small church
can be found and was built on the same place where the family of Saint Catherine had their field and just in front of the church’s door, we can find the so called “Oratorio della Cucina
” that it was used as kitchen by the family. We can still spot the remains of the fireplace
where according to the tradition, the Saint fell into the fire but did not suffer of any wounds. The place is suggestive
: the wall is covered by gold
(I guess) where many pictures portray the story of Saint Catherine
never take a photo here or else a voice will scold you just as it happened to us that first time we visited xD we did not follow the rules and tried to take pictures but, I do not know how, they found us out :,)
The first time I came to this place, I was really puzzled about the presence of this fountain
in the middle of the city and I had not realised the reason of its presence there until some days ago when I decided to research a bit about these places I visited before writing the article. This part of the city, during the middle-age, was inhabited by wool workers
and they had a great need of water in order to carry out their tasks. Therefore, this picturesque fountain
was built here. The water is very high and almost overflows; on the wall we can spot small rock inscriptions carved with Latin writings that might tell the year and the reason the fountain was built but since they are quite far away, it is hard to read them.
5) Via del Costone
According to our urban exploration map, we must climb up this super narrow street called “Via del Costone“. At first we were a bit reluctant as both of us are quite lazy but then we decided to go because every time the path becomes harder, at the top a beautiful reward awaits you 😉 And in the end, we were not disappointed and enjoyed the beautiful view over the Basilica and this part of Siena, that, believe me, is worth more than one simple visit **
The urban exploration will be continued in my next article as this one is long enough xD
See you soon in my next article 😀