6) The most picturesque alleyways
I posted the more detailed map of the paths, streets and alleyways we followed during this urban trekking in my previous article so you can check it if you will ever travel to Siena and you want to explore deeper the city, far away from the noise of tourists and crowded places. Here, I will post my favourite alleyways and streets during the urban exploration, both for the landscapes they offer and for the history and the atmosphere they make you feel when you walk through them.
Piazzetta della Selva
This place is so hidden and forgotten, even by the inhabitants of Siena, that caught my attention. We passed through narrow and very dark alleyways before reaching this small square so it appeared like an oasis in the desert in my eyes :3 The square is located on the so called “Sant’Ansano hole“, where, according to the legend, the city martyr of the same name had to overcome various tests to be acknowledged by Siena inhabitants.
Vicolo degli Orefici
This the most mysterious place that someone can find in Siena! It is actually a dead end but in the past connected various alleyways and it is rumoured that it was also part of the Via Francigena, which is a pilgrimage route that connects the holiest cities for catholic believers in Europe: from Canterbury, to Santiago de Compostela and even to Jerusalem. It is silent, narrow, dark with rare beams of sunlight…it is made of arches and ancient houses that remind you of the old time. Orefici, in Italian, means goldsmiths; even though the origins of the name are still unclear, it is said that a family, who presumably was living here in the past, found their pecuniary success in commercializing gold.
Via Giovanni Dupre
This long street is named after the sculptor Giovanni Dupre and spreads all around Piazza del Campo. This part of the city, despite being just behind the biggest and most known place in Siena, is almost deserted and the majority of people that stroll here are local. It is crazy to see that, even if these picturesque alleyways are in proximity of tourist attractions, are still cut off from the mass tourism; this a positive side, I guess, so the city can keep their authentic spirit, something that other italian or european cities have long lost throughout the time because of the great affluence of tourists.
When first I saw this alleyway, I was amazed at how steep it was! Think about the people that everyday must go up and down to bring groceries, stuff or just to go out and have fun. There were many motorbikes scattered around and even cars parked D: They must be really skillful drivers to be able to climb up this steep street. I do not exactly remember where this nice corner was located but, I guess, along Via Giovanni Dupre.
7) Piazza del Mercato
This place is located just behind the famous Piazza del Campo but, just like it happened to the Dupre street, even here you will not find a big crowd of tourists. It is called Market Place so I guess that they held a weekly market here, even if I have never had the honour to attend it since I always sleep or go to lessons in the morning. Piazza del Mercato offers a different perspective as here you see the city from the back and you can catch nice glimpses of the older part of Siena just like the one in my photo. In the middle of the square you can find a wooden building that can be used as shelter to protect yourself from the rain (as it often happened to me) or just to sit down after the long walk and the presence of a fountain with fresh water, ready to fill your, of course, empty bottle 😉
8) Santa Maria di Provenzano
This church was highlighted in the urban exploration but I must say I had already found it during my pilgrimages in the city. It is very well hidden, in the deep of the narrow Sienese alleyways, and is quite hard to find but for all of those who want to visit, just follow the map I posted in my previous article. Santa Maria di Provenzano was built in the 16th century in honour of the Visitation. The church offers the visitators a beautiful and cliche insight into italian lifestyle, with the steep street packed with Vespas and cars leading to the entrance of the church and surrounded by crumbling and ancient buildings.