Siena, Italy

Siena skyline, with Il Campo in the center and a glimpse of the Photo © Sacred Destinations.

Siena, a small city of 60,000 people in Tuscany, has been called "the manageable Florence." Siena's many fans point out that it has all the good aspects of its more famous neighbor – the art, the architecture, the history, and the food – with less of the bad - heavy traffic, heavy tourism, and souvenir stands on every corner. Siena was a bustling economic center in the Middle Ages, based on its textiles, saffron and wine. In the 14th century, it was the home of St. Catherine, an outspoken and politically active Dominican who experienced a "mystic marriage" with Christ and was one of the first women to be named a Doctor of the Church. Today, Catholic pilgrims to Siena pray at the shrine of St. Catherine and receive mass in the Duomo, and all visitors enjoy the cafe-lined Il Campo, the abundant art and architecture of the city, and the imposing Church of San Domenico.

Siena Duomo
Siena's cathedral is considered one of the great examples of Italian Gothic architecture, with black-and-white stripes, beautifully decorated floors and many art masterpieces.
Siena Crypt
This recently-discovered room beneath the Duomo has a wonderful series of 13th-century frescoes adorning its walls.
San Domenico
This huge, austere Dominican church dates from the 13th century. Inside, it displays much beautiful art as well as the head and finger of St. Catherine of Siena.
Shrine of St. Catherine
This Catholic shrine consists of a series of chapels built on the site of St. Catherine of Siena's family home, where she was born and lived much of her remarkable life.
Santa Maria Dei Servi
Built in the 13th century, the Romanesque Santa Maria dei Servi has a fine campanile with four orders of windows. Inside are some famous frescoes and other notable artworks.