No amount of pinocchio-themed souvenir shops and over-priced gelati parlors can take away the charm from Siena. The medieval old city will transport you back in time. Walking around, you quickly notice the city is divided into different parts, each showcasing a different medieval house with their corresponding flag - noting by the dragon flag outside the window of the apartment we were renting out, it seems we were now officially Targaryens (or really just rooting for the Drago contrada or district, situated to the north-west of the old center).
In the heart of the old city, you find "The Piazza del Campo" with its beautiful half-circle-fan-like structure that leads up to the "Palazzo Pubblico". The piazza is unique in that it slants and actually funnels into the town hall with its big secular tower called "la Torre del Mangia” making it the focal point of the city. This must be the first old European city I’ve been to where there isn’t a church in the center, but instead a town hall, which makes me think ancient Sienese were quite progressive! In this piazza is where the people of Siena hold their biannual “palio” race (a traditional medieval bareback horse race). But that’s only two days out of the whole year. The rest of the time, the piazza is simply the perfect spot to sit in the tilted ground and enjoy a bottle of cheap-yet-amazing wine from the 24hr mini-market. So that’s exactly what we did. And trust me, after climbing up and down 400 steps in a tiny claustrophobia-evoking tower, there’s nothing better than enjoying a plastic cup of wine while watching that last strip of sunlight disappear though the sides of the tower.