One of My Favorite Squares in Europe

Sitting on a balcony overlooking Siena’s Il Campo, which hosts Europe’s wildest horse race twice a year, my tour-guide friend Roberto Bechi tells me about his city’s Palio pandemonium.

If you can’t see the video below, watch it on YouTube.



7 Replies to “One of My Favorite Squares in Europe”

  1. Ok I may get some hate mail on this one, but Siena`s square seems kinda blase to me. Now I`ve never been there and maybe it`s one of those places that you have to be there to enjoy. It just seems that there are many other squares that are more aesthetically appealing.

  2. Go there; then judge. Make sure you are present in late afternoon when the shadows grow long and stay until some time into the evening, when the inhabitants go on their evening walk.

  3. Some really love Siena as the no. 1 hilltown – it`s a matter of taste. Then you love the campo. It`s the people, the significace, the passeggiata. There aren`t a lot of statues, granted. One mid-sized fountain. But as Rick hinted at, the significance is deep. Some things you can`t see – ideas, concepts. I believe Siena helped set the stage for the Renaissance, before Florence, in ideas an art. Some new risky concepts were tried there – that we now take for granted. Travel can be homage. Anyway. There are passeggiatas squares in most Italian towns, but this may be the largest. People leave their homes and walk among each other, meeting, talking, exchanging. We could use more of that in the USA. After sundown, with all the feeder streets filled with people socializing, walking, the mood, the shops, food, gelato – must see at least once.

  4. I was at Il Campo in 2006; one of the true sublime experiences I`ve had in my travels through Europe. I had originally planned only one night in Siena then was going to take the bus to Assisi the next morning. Ended up missing that bus, then two great things happened. I encountered a most beautiful Spainiard named Fatema, and our conversation carried on into the next hour. Then I went back to get the same room I checked out of at Albergo Cannon D`oro…and just relaxed. I literally spent the whole afternoon leaning over a post on the square`s edge, taking in the scene and drinking in the cool November breeze. Only one day in Siena[INVALID]what was I thinking? Since I did everything I wanted to the first day, I was able to relax and recharge (plus do laundry). You truly have to be there to understand why people love Il Campo. Why I like most is how the centerpiece is not the Duomo but City Hall; indeed it sets them apart from other piazzas in Italy as well as most other squares on the Continent.

  5. As with anything you must be there to appreciate it. It`s hard to judge from just a picture. So many places don`t translate the feeling of a place in a picture. We also were set to only be in Siena for one night, fell in love with it and were able to stay another night. It`s a wonderful community feeling. Sit and have a drink in the evening and people watch or just wander the square. We are looking forward to going back to watch the horse race in the square.

  6. I love reading the different experiences. They make Siena seem irresistable. I`ll definitely have to keep it in my itinerary.

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