Thursday, September 4, 2008

Ahhhh, Siena. Rome's sister city.

The founding of Siena has its roots in the founding of Rome. Rome was founded by Remus and Romulus. Remus was killed by his brother Romulus. When Remus died his two sons fled Rome to safety. When the did they had stolen a statue of the She-wolf suckling the twins. Their names were Senius and Aschius. As they fled north they were protected by a white cloud during the day and a black cloud at night. She takes her name from Senius.

The colors black and white are present everywhere in Siena...namely the Duomo that carries the two colors throughout its facade. The flag of Siena is also black and white. The city's crest is called Balzana. You will also see the statue of Rome's She-wolf throughout Siena.

Siena was a city that survived and flourished without access to water for trade. Instead her money came to the city from the road that went from Rome to Paris named Via Francigena. Most travelers stopped in Siena for the night so like today much of the city's money comes from travelers.

Siena was also a banking city. It was the official bank of the Vatican and today you will still see signs for the Bank of Siena...the oldest bank in Italy. There are silver mines around Siena in the countryside.

Like most towns in Tuscany Siena was most often at war with Florence. Unfortunately, Florence won and controlled Siena. Today you can still see the Medici Walls and Medici Crest around the city of Siena. The famous poet Dante fought against Siena with Florence.

Siena is a fantastic place to visit and call home while visiting Tuscany. I prefer to stay in Siena and take day trips to Florence and other hilltowns. The food is wonderful, the people are amazing, and it is, per capita, one of Italy's wealthiest cities.

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