The historical rivalries between the city-states of Siena and Florence still exist today, even between visitors who inevitably argue the merits of one over the other.
Though Siena (recognized by UNESCO as a world heritage site) may not have quite the same number of world-renown museums and visitor attractions of its near neighbour, this proud Medieval city has much to offer with its Duomo, churches and musuems sitting amongst its tight and winding lanes, which themselves ultimately converge on to the open space of the Piazza del Campo. The Campo is the stage for the bi-annual Palio (2 July and 16 August), when horses and riders representing ten of the town’s seventeen contradas compete in a breakneck bareback race. The Palio is well worth a visit and not simply for the race itself, but also the events and dinners held in each of the contradas in the build up to and immediately after the main event. Those who favour Siena over Florence will say that visiting Siena is a more enjoyable experience; there are not as many tourists ensuring you are able to really absorb the atmosphere of what is still very much a working city for the Sienese people.