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Siena is a small town. Unlike the collection of sights in Florence and Rome, Siena has to be seen as a whole. The Gothic soul is easy to explore: flower-decked wells in numerous courtyards, modest churches and dead-end alleys.

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Climb the claustrophobic stairs to the top of the 100-yard-tall bell tower and experience urban harmony at its best.

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Maybe the best example of an organically grown city, never disturbed by major wars and outside forces.

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Il Campo, Siena’s great central piazza, with its gently tilted floor fanning out from the city hall tower, is like a people-friendly stage set. It’s a perfect place to spend a morning. Twice a year, they race horses around this marvelous place. A spectacle we gladly missed.

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The ultimate of medieval churches is Siena’s cathedral. Its striped facade is piled with statues and ornamentation.

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And the brilliant interior, decorated from top to bottom, comes with the heads of 172 popes peering down from the ceiling over the fine inlaid art on the floor.

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This is as bizarre as Gothic gets.

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Not a religious person, I dreamed of speaking from this miraculous pulpit.

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If you hate traffic, this is your city. A complete traffic-free core, with the first European square to go pedestrian in the 60’s.

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A magical place.

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