History of Siena

A holiday in the heart of Tuscany

Discover Siena's history and most famous people, from its foundation to the present day

We invite you to discover the extraordinary history of Siena, one of the most beautiful cities in Tuscany.
The medieval jewel is also a favourite destination for Italian and foreign tourists because of the fascinating and legendary atmosphere that pervades the entire city, starting right from its foundation. Discover the Siena enveloped in myths and historical events, memories and stories.

The origins of Siena

A legend shrouds the origins of Siena. It’s the story of Senio and Ascanio, sons of Remus and nephews of Romulus, who are said to have founded the city after fleeing their uncle’s murderous intentions in Rome. They brought with them the symbol of the She-wolf, which became Siena’s symbol: the Sienese She-Wolf.

From an oral tradition with no historical foundation, it was formalised in historical records. It’s historically correct that Siena developed as a military colony (called Sena Julia) during the rule of Rome, at the time of Emperor Augustus, and then later it was transformed into a small trading centre.

It boomed in the Middle Ages when the Lombards and Franks ruled the city, leaving their mark in the form of important public works. One of these was Via Francigena, the road connecting Rome to France, which was travelled by pilgrims and wayfarers, greatly increasing Siena’s commercial importance.

Siena's expansion:

commercial and cultural revival of the Tuscan city

After a long period of episcopal rule (between the 10th and 12th centuries, the Church was actively involved in governing the city), Siena becomes a municipality in 1147.This coincided with an expansionist policy toward neighbouring territories, which lead to a period of economic wealth and cultural revival.

This is the period of the great Sienese artists such as Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, and Duccio di Boninsegna. Under the Government of Nine, public buildings, religious monuments and prestigious palaces were built including the Cathedral. But the plague of 1348 decimated the city’s population and halted construction. This event contributed to the decline of the Republic of Siena.

That early prosperity and Siena’s growing military power, aroused the envy and resentment of its Guelph neighbour Florence, resulting in inevitable clashes between the two cities, which lasted until 1555 when Siena was conquered by the Florentines and become part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.


The oldest fountain in Siena Fontebranda is Siena’s most famous medieval fountain, located in Terzo

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History of the city of Siena

Follow this link to discover Siena’s history and most famous people, from its foundation to present day