Siena, Tuscany (Italy)
According to electronicsencyclopedia.com, Siena is located in Central Italy, in the region of Tuscany. Legend has it that it was founded by Senio and Askio, nephews of Romulus. In the 8th century n. e. the city became the seat of a bishop. By the XI-XIV centuries. Siena gained such power that even Rome and Florence feared it. It is no coincidence that the Ghibellines found refuge here, hiding from their opponents the Guelphs and from the claims of papal Rome. In the XII century. Sienna becomes a free city-commune, develops trade and crafts. The local silver coin was so significant that the first pawnshops and banks appeared here. The city experienced its finest hour in 1260, when the Sienese defeated the Florentines. At that glorious time, the construction of the cathedral, one of the most beautiful in Italy, was completed, palaces and other public buildings were built, which were decorated by the largest Italian sculptors and painters.
Today Siena is, above all, a superbly preserved medieval city. The main attraction of the city is the architectural ensemble Campo Square (Piazza del Campo). Its shape, resembling an inverted shell, is considered unique. The Sansedoni Palace is overlooking the square (Sansedoni) and the Pubblico Palace (Pubblico), which houses the exposition of the Civico Museum with magnificent frescoes by Simone Martini. In the Pubblico Palace, you can climb the tower and admire the panorama of the city. Not far from the square is the Cathedral, which is an architectural masterpiece of the XII century. Impressive as its magnificent Romanesque facade, as well as the unique floor of marble slabs. Also noteworthy are the pulpit with biblical reliefs by Andrea Pisano and the statues of St. Peter and St. Paul, created by the young Michelangelo.
From the fourteenth century twice a year, in July and August, the Palio festival is held on Campo Square, which gathers not only residents of the city, but also tourists from all over Italy. The area is covered with a thick layer of sand and turned into a hippodrome, where competitions are held. The fact is that it was from the fourteenth century. Siena was divided into quarters – contradas, each of which was assigned its own flag and coat of arms with a pattern of a patron animal. In other words, in one city, as it were, several separate states were formed, which are still “fighting” among themselves, sorting out relations not with military operations, but with equestrian competitions. According to tradition, riders ride in medieval costumes, without saddles, and make only three circles around the square. The competition itself usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. The winner of the race receives a challenge flag with the image of the Virgin Mary.
Sondrio, Lombardy (Italy)
Sondrio is the center of the vast Valtellina mountain valley, stretching from the western to eastern borders of the Lombardy region along the Adda River. This is one of the most beautiful corners of Lombardy, its main ski region and one of the largest wine regions in Italy, wines such as Grumello, Sfursat and Sforzato di Valtellina are produced here. The valley is famous for its landscapes with glaciers, alpine rivers, lakes, meadows, orchards and vineyards, numerous hiking trails and historical monuments.
In the city of Sondrio interesting are the 17th century Palazzo Sassi Palace, which houses the Museum of the History and Art of Valtellina, and the 15th century Macegra Castle with the historical museum of the Grisons – Swiss Protestants who fought against the Valtellina Catholics in the period from the 16th to the 18th centuries. From Sondrio, you can go to other places of interest in the valley: the city of Chiavenna (ancient Roman Klavenna) with its church of San Lorenzo, which houses the Jewelery Museum, containing a collection of religious artifacts, including an inlaid Gospel of the 12th century; the city of Campodolcino with interesting buildings from the 19th century; the village of Kozio Valtellino with the Museum of the Wild Man – a symbol of these places; the city of Teglio with the palace of Besta of the 15th century; city Tirano with the 17th century Salis Palace and the 16th century Madonna Basilica; the city of Grosio, where the church of San Giorgio of the 13th century is located, and the nearby Rock Art Park, where neolithic rock paintings have been preserved; the town of Piedonosso, home to some of the most beautiful churches in the region, San Martino and San Urbano; and the city of Grumello with the remains of a 13th-century palace.
A few kilometers north of Sondrio, near the village of Chiesa, there is the Valmalenco ski area., which is known for its gentle slopes, perfect for those who want to learn how to ski. In total, there are about 60 km of slopes and 15 lifts. The resort has an excellent ski school with 50 instructors. Also in Valmalenko there is a snow park where you can go snowboarding.
Northeast of Sondrio in the Alta Valtellina region are the most popular ski resorts in the valley. The mountains here reach 4000 m, and some areas are covered with glaciers, which can be skied all year round. The Alta Valtellina ski region includes the resorts of Bormio , Santa Caterina , Valdidentro and Livigno . In total, there are 300 km of ski slopes, half of which are “red”, 80 lifts and 95 km of flat skiing. The resorts are located near the border of the largest national park in Italy – Stelvio.