Siena is not only a city of art, folklore and culture, but it is also a city with lots of greenery to see and experience. Let's discover together its parks and gardens where you can spend the still mild autumn days.
It is located in the highest part of the city, with spectacular views over most of Siena. It was built from 1560 to 1563 by order of Cosimo I de 'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany and designed by Baldassarre Lanci. The Medici coats of arms are still visible on three of the four bastions. Also called the Fortress of Santa Barbara, this structure was built above all in order to prevent the Sienese from rebellion against the Florentine dominion. From 1937 it was demilitarized and transformed into a public garden. In the northern part, the gardens of the Lizza, while in the southern part, the gardens with the fountain. The fortress has a single entrance located in the northern part, the one towards Florence, and has impressive dimensions. The Medici fortress is therefore today a large public park with an open-air theater, loved by Sienese, students and tourists for walking, reading, jogging among the lime trees. The coats of arms of the Medici family are still visible on the walkway along the ramparts. Inside it houses the Siena Jazz Association, which organizes training courses for musicians and music research laboratories, with a sound archive and a library. During the summer season, the Fortress is transformed, giving life to numerous cultural, sporting and food and wine events, thanks to the ViviFortezza program, a project created to enhance the historical spaces of Siena. In fact, from the beginning of June until the end of September, art exhibitions, book presentations, musical concerts of various kinds (from jazz, to pop, to rock, to classical music), dance lessons and open air yoga, basketball tournaments, screenings of football matches and tastings of great food and wine.
For those who, on the other hand, want to learn everything about plants, the appointment is at the Botanical Garden of the University of Siena, located in via Pier Andrea Mattioli, near the Church of Sant'Agostino. Here you can get acquainted with medicinal, native and exotic plants, in a context that reproduces various natural environments. Its sloping location, made up of winding paths, small pools, spongy rock caves and a medieval spring, make it an oasis of peace and tranquility, with the city behind it.
Its origins date back to 1588, with the establishment of the chair of the "Simple" in Siena, at the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. In the eighteenth century, while continuing to keep the part relating to the apothecary important, scientific interest shifted to plants from exotic countries. In 1784, with the reform of the Siena Studio, the Grand Duke of Tuscany Pietro Leopoldo entrusted Biagio Bartalini with the task of transforming the ancient Orto dei Semplici into a Botanical Garden of the University.
Once you have crossed the access paths, the plants extend surprisingly, and are displayed according to systematic or ecological criteria. The flower beds with ornamental plants, pergolas and rows of trees constitute the original root, according to the canons of nineteenth-century gardens.
In the fourteenth century it was a place of passage for those sentenced to death who crossed the garden passing through Porta Giustizia to go to be executed. It was then part of the Psychiatric Hospital of Porta Romana, where the inmates grew fruit and vegetables for the needs of the whole structure and looked after the hospital's farmyard animals. Today it is an ideal green space for everyone: for families with children, for those looking for a little relaxation while visiting the city, or for those who want to discover a unique place in which an ancient medieval urban garden has been rebuilt. it is also included in the circuit of educational farms of the Province of Siena.
Here the little ones can learn about the countryside and get in touch with "the village of animals", while older children, thanks to the presence of both the medieval garden and the organic garden, will learn the differences between the crops of the past and those of today.
They are located behind the architectural complex of the Church of Sant'Agostino and as the name suggests, they were the gardens cultivated by the friars of the convent. The area is now used as a public park, however there are traces that testify to their original vocation thanks to the persistence of olive and fruit trees. The Contrada della Tartuca uses both the outdoor spaces for organizing outdoor events, and a part of the former convent that overlooks the gardens. In summer, it is a place for concerts and film shows, but in every season it offers a beautiful view of the city and the countryside and guarantees the calm to be able to read, listen to music, take a lunch break, take the children to play. It is very popular with Sienese, students and tourists throughout the year. Its elevated position makes it a natural terrace from which you can enjoy one of the most evocative views of Siena and all its surrounding area. In addition, since the 2000s it has housed Tony Cragg's environmental art sculpture "Goccia".
Of decidedly more recent origin than the ancient gardens of Siena, the 'Unity Park of Italy', located in the center of the valley of via di Pescaia, outside the walls, is composed of 900 meters of linear paths, where you can walk or train following the fitness trail, surrounded by 11 outdoor exercise machines. The whole area is ideal for families with children, but also for groups of friends looking for a place to spend whole days; thanks to its games and braziers made available, it is in fact possible to have nice barbecues in company, you just need to bring with you what you need to make a fire and eat.
Here are 6 parks and gardens in Siena for an Autumn in the city. Did you know them?