Siena is a little rough around the edges. “Pretty” doesn’t describe it accurately. With dozens of dark alleys, and contrade (gang) flags flying everywhere, it’s not hard to imagine a West Side Story scene in progress around any corner at any given time.
Then you have the Piazza del Campo, a vast plaza that reminds me of something out of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. It is used for the Palio, a no-holds-barred horse race that began back in 1590 when the Duke of Tuscany banned bullfighting and the locals had to find another way to maim themselves.
So, it’s possible that I have an overactive imagination, but I find Siena to be a little sinister. And the ticket system for the local sights is completely insane. It took three trips to the Duomo ticket booth to straighten out that yes, we wanted to see the church and the crypt underneath it and the church museum right next to it. (That’s the short version.)
But, there is a ton of interesting stuff to see, and our lunchtime pizza in a side street cafe was beyond excellent. I probably shouldn’t have eaten it right before climbing up two very tiny, very tall spiral staircases to get that view from the top of the annex, though.