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5 things to do in Siena with kids

5 things to do in Siena with kids

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A visit to Siena is a must when you are in the Tuscan region of Italy. It’s a beautiful city with plenty of walkable sights. In this post I’m sharing my recommended things to do in Siena with kids that you can fit into a day trip or short stay.

A visit to Siena is a must when you are in the Tuscan region of Italy. Here's some of the things to do with kids in Siena, Italy #Sienna #Siena #Italy #travel #thingstodo #trip #city #Italian #break #familytravel #travelblog #TinBoxTraveller

About Siena or Sienna

Siena, or Sienna as it’s more commonly known outside Italy, is 30km south from Florence, so an easy day trip from Tuscany’s capital.

The first time I set foot in Siena I was wowed by the medieval architecture, its incredible yet unfinished Cathedral and the symbology on every street corner which speaks of the fierce neighbourhood rivalry that has echoed down the centuries.

It also also home to the world’s oldest bank. Indeed we have Siena to thank for commercial banking – maybe not its best claim to fame!

Today it is more famous for the Palio di Siena – a traditional medieval horse race run around the Piazza del Campo twice each year.

1. Things to do in Siena with kids: Wander Piazza del Campo

Torre del Mangia and Palazzo Pubblico, Siena Italy with kids

If your kids are old enough for the James Bond films they may recognise Siena’s central piazza Il Campo from a scene in Quantum of Solace which features the famous horse race, Il Palio.

This happens in the square in July and August and is fiercely contested by Siena’s 17 neighbourhoods.

Only 10 horses and jockeys can race each time because of the size of the piazza – they are decided by a lottery.

However, 20,000 spectators cram into the area and there are a further 15,000 straining for a view from the buildings and streets around.

Aside from the race, the piazza is a good place to let kids burn off some energy as you admire the Palazzo Pubblico, which was built in the 13th Century to house the Siena government, and its 102 meter Torre del Mangia tower.

Fonte Gaia, Siena Italy with kids

You can also find the Fonte Gaia – or Fountain of the World – in the piazza. This was the end point of a system of conduits built in the 14th Century to bring water into the city.

2. A must see Siena sight: visit Duomo di Siena

Siena Duomo, Siena Italy with kids

One of Siena’s pride and joys down the centuries is its Duomo. Its architects’ aim was to make it the biggest in Europe giving Siena power over its rival, Florence.

However, the Black Death struck and the Cathedral could not be completed as planned. One wing of the great church stands roofless to this day.

Duomo cross through towers, Siena Italy with kids
Duomo dome, Siena Italy with kids

After the plague the Sienese decided to refocus their efforts on the marbled floor of the Duomo, making it an unparalleled masterpiece.

And, of course, as art is in the eye of the beholder who is to say it is not the best Duomo floor in Italy?

Duomo floor picture, Siena Italy with kids

It is pretty stunning though. As is the Piccolomini Library which is a room off to a side with incredible frescos depicting the life of Pope Pius II.

Piccolomini Library inside the Duomo, Siena Italy with kids

Imagining how the artists managed to create these colourful and detailed works will entertain even the youngest of visitors.

Piccolomini Library ceiling inside the Duomo, Siena Italy with kids

3. Siena for kids: always look up

It’s not just the ceilings of the Duomo for which it’s worth craning your neck. As you wander the medieval streets of Siena there’s plenty of reasons look to the skies.

On the same piazza as the oldest bank in the world, Monte dei Paschi, you’ll spot Siena’s Men of the Renaissance.

The oldest bank in the world, Siena Italy with kids
Faces on the Men of the Renaissance, Siena Italy with kids

4. When in Italy with kids: search for signs

Look closely and Siena is a treasure trove of signs denoting the city’s 17 historic neighbourhoods. Each family belonged to a neighbourhood based on their profession or status.

Today many families still live by the code of their neighbourhood, especially in the weeks leading up to the Il Palio horse race. In this time they do not mix with their rivals, even if it means moving out of their marital home.

Dragon neighbourhood sign, Siena Italy with kids

Your kids will enjoy spotting signs of these neighbourhoods – caterpillars, geese, wolves, porcupines and dragons included – on every street corner, door and wall in Siena.

Dragon neighbourhood sign, Siena Italy with kids

5. Meet St Catherine…well, her head and thumb

Siena has its own Saint: St Catherine. She was born a year before the Black Death and decided from a young age to live the life of a nun.

The Basilica San Domenico became her home at the age of 14 and it was here that she regularly had conversations with God.

Basilica San Domenico, Siena Italy with kids

People pilgrimaged to see her, bringing wealth to Siena and the Dominican church.

She also had the ear of the Pope who had left Rome to return to his native France but returned under instruction from Catherine. Her political influence was huge.

Basilica San Domenico, Siena Italy with kids

When she died parts of her body were sent all over Italy, but her mummified head and thumb can be seen in the Basilica today.

Aside from the ornate reliquary and alters the interior of the building itself is quite simple with wooden beams, white-washed Siena marble walls, and modern stained glass windows.

However, before the Black Death there would have been colourful frescos. These were painted over to purify the building after the plague.

Today some have been uncovered. Hanging from the walls are the flags of the different neighbourhoods of Siena – more reminders of the Il Palio race as the horse and rider of the Dragons are brough to the Basilica for a blessing ahead of the competition.

Photography is not permitted inside the Basilica.

Handy information for visiting Siena with kids

Siena Italy with kids
  • We booked and paid for a tour with Arianna and Friends. They arranged a meeting point outside the city centre, close to the sports stadium where there was plenty of parking. There were also bus stops. Our lovely guide adapted our private tour to our interests and needs.
  • Expect to pay to pee in city centre toilets. If you prefer, simply order a drink in a cafe and you will be able to use their facilities.
  • Siena does have some hills but the streets are suitable for pushchairs. If you go slow for little legs the distances between Basilica San Domenico and the Duomo would be doable with young children. The city centre is pedestrianised.
  • If your kids tire of sightseeing the Piazza del Campo is the ideal place to let them run around in the open. Here you’ll also find souvenir stands, restaurants and gelato parlours. However, do expect to pay higher prices here than in some of the city’s quieter side streets.

If you’re curious about visiting more Tuscan cities then take a look at my guide to Florence with kids.

The you’ve had your fill of Tuscany why not head south to Puglia. There are some wonderful places to visit near Bari. We can recommend a visit to Sicily too.

More things to do in Italy with kids

I love Italy and have also written about:

Have you visited Siena, Italy? What else would you recommend seeing in Siena with kids?

Visiting Siena with kids? Why not save this post for later.

A visit to Siena is a must when you are in the Tuscan region of Italy. Here's some of the things to do with kids in Siena, Italy.

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Leo Tat

Wednesday 16th of May 2018

Siena is such a beautiful city with lots of character. I particularly like Duomo di Siena; there is so much detail in its architecture. When the kids are tired, sit down for an espresso in a family owned cafe.


Friday 11th of May 2018

Italy makes a perfect place for a family vacation.

Erin Ek Rush

Monday 30th of April 2018

What a fantastic post! You've really got everything covered! (It's always important to know what the peeing situation is) I would love to take my kiddos to Siena!

Zena's Suitcase

Monday 30th of April 2018

There are some great ideas here. I would definitely take my kids to explore the Duomo, it looks like there is a lot to keep their attention there

Claire Hall - Tin Box Traveller

Monday 30th of April 2018

It's an incredible building. I'm so glad I went in. It's striking from the outside but inside is something else. I now want to go back to Florence and see the inside of their Duomo so I can compare :)


Monday 30th of April 2018

What a fab post Claire! Siena is so so beautiful, I loved wandering around taking in the atmosphere and the history. Duomo looks incredible!

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