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The historic centre of Siena has been declared by UNESCO a World Heritage Site. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008. Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice yearly.
Siena began as Etruscan, before it was conquered by Ancient Rome. Sienna prospered under the Lombards, who became the first Kings of Italy. Lombard nobles governed it until the 8th century, when they were conquered by Charlemagne and his Franks. Feudal rule eded with the death of the Countess Matilda in 1115, and Sienna became an independent city with its own government. There were struggles between Siena and Florence during the Middle Ages and the renaissance. The city did well in wool and money lending or usury, the charging of interest on loans.
- 390 Battle of the Allia
- Siena did not prosper under Roman rule. It was not sited near any major roads and therefore missed out on the resulting opportunities for trade.
- 1115: the death of Countess Matilda, an important point for the history of Sienna, because after this the Mark of Tuscia which had been under the control of her family – the Canossa – broke up into several autonomous regions.
- Sienna became a major center of money lending and an important for trade. It was governed at first directly by its Bishop.
- During the 1100s: power of Bishop lost energy and at the same thime the biggest build of Sienna, the Duomo, was completed.
- 1167: Sienna, after a trouble about territories with Arezzo, became independence from the Bishop.
- 1179: Sienna had a written constitution.
- Early 12th century a self-governing commune replaced the earlier aristocratic government. The consuls who governed the republic slowly became more inclusive of the poblani, or common people, and the Commune increased its territory as the surrounding feudal nobles in their fortified castles submitted to the urban power. Sienna's republic, struggling internally between nobles and the popular party, usually worked in political opposition to its great rival, Florence.
- 1203: Siena's university was founded.
-1348: Sienna was devastated by the Black Death.
- 1355: with Charles IV of Luxembourg in the city, the population rose and suppressed the government of the Nove (Nine), establishing that Dodici (Twelve) nobles assisted by a group with a popular majority.
- 1404: the Visconti were expelled and a government of Ten Priors established, in alliance with Florence against King Ladislas of Naples. With the election of the Sienese Pius II as Pope, the Piccolomini and other noble families were helped to return to the government, but after his death the control returned into popular hands.
- 1472: the Republic founded the Monte dei Paschi, a bank that is still active today and is the oldest surviving bank in the world.
- Emperor Charles V took advantage of the chaotic situation to put a Spanish garrison in Sienna. The citizens expelled the garrison in 1552, and made allies with France. This was unacceptable for Charles, who sent his general Gian Giacomo Medici to lay siege to it with a Florentine-Imperial army.
- August 1554: Sienna lost against Florence at the Battle of Marciano. After 18 months of resistance, it surrendered to Florence on 17 April 1555, marking the end of the Republic of Siena. The new Spanish King Philip, owing huge sums to the Medici, gave it (apart from some coastal fortresses) to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany,
- Until the unification of Italy Sienna was controlled by Florence.
Important places in Siena
- Siena's cathedral
- Piazza del Campo
- Palazzo Pubblico
- Torre del Mangia,
- Basilica dell'Osservanza
- Santa Maria dei Servi
- San Domenico
- San Francesco
- Santo Spirito
- San Martino
- Palazzo Chigi
- Villa Chigi
- Castle of Belcaro
- Villa Celsa
- Villa Cetinale
- Villa Volte Alte
- Palazzo Salimbeni, (On the "Piazza Salimbeni") a notable building and also the medieval headquarter of Monte dei Paschi di Siena, one of the oldest banks of the World.
- Sanctuary of Santa Caterina, incorporating the old house of St. Catherine of Siena. It houses the miraculous Crucifix (late 12th century) from which the saint received her stigmata, and a 15th century statue of St. Catherine.
- The Museo dell'Opera del Duomo (Museum of Opera in the Duomo) where we can see the Duccio's famous Maestà (1308–1311) and various other works by Senese masters.
July 2 and August 16 are the dates when the Palio di Siena is held. The Palio is a traditional medieval horse race is run around the Piazza del Campo each year. This event is attended by large crowds, and is showed on tv. televised. Seventeen Contrade run for the prize,a painted flag, or Palio bearing an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Province of Siena
- "UNESCO-Historic Centre of Siena". http://whc.unesco.org. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/717.
- "Euromonitor Internationals Top City Destinations Ranking > Euromonitor archive". Euromonitor.com. 2008-12-12. http://www.euromonitor.com/_Euromonitor_Internationals_Top_City_Destinations_Ranking. Retrieved 2010-04-09.