A Running Tour of Siena

During my stay with students in Siena, Italy I have been running in the city to get to know it a little better.  The central part of the city is surrounded by walls and there are 8 gates around the perimeter.  I decided to run around the through the city to see each gate. I started and ended in the south near Porta Tufi near our residence on Via Mattioli.


Siena as a city is divided into seventeen Contrade (neighborhoods) each with their own colors, flags and animals. Our Contrada is Tortuca (“Tortoise”) and this weekend they were flying their colors.

A street in our Contrada
A street in our Contrada

As you can see, the pavement is wet.  I tried to run between thunderstorms. Siena lies on three major hills, so the streets can be quite steep and it is difficult to keep up a good running pace.  But it is generally not too humid and the vistas are worth the climb.

View to the southeast near Porta San Marco
View to the southeast near Porta San Marco

Here’s the Porta Tufi, the first gate of the run.

Siena 3 Porta San Marco

Very few gates have roads leading directly between them. But from Porta San Marco to Porta Laterina you can take a low road along the wall or backtrack just a bit to a higher one.

Siena 4 View from above Porta Laterina

The view is worth it and the trip north to Laterina takes only a few minutes.

Siena 5 Porta Laterina

Moving on from Porta Laterina toward Porta Fontebranda, I went to the east of the Duomo along some side streets.

Siena 6 Porta Fontebranda

Porta Fontebranda lies in a low part of the city and there are some steep stairs to descend to it. The stairs going back up are not exactly fun, but they help to get your heart-rate up and your calves aching.

Siena 7 Steps from Porta Fontebranda

San Domenico stands just north and on  a hill from Porta Fontebranda.

Siena 8 San Domenico

Once on top of this hill, there is a soccer stadium and a public park that gives some great views of the Duomo from the northeast.

Siena 9 Duomo from the West near Public Park

Just beyond this point, there is the Fortezza Medicea which has been turned into a public park. The loop around the top is under a half-mile and provides some pretty great views of the city and the surrounding valley.

Siena 10 Fortezza di S. Barbara

Here’s another view of the Duomo from the Fort.

Siena 11 Duomo from Fortezza

Turning back west, it is a short trip from the entrance to the Fortezza to the Porta Camiolla, the northernmost gate to the city.

Siena 12 Porta Camollia

Between the Porta Camiolla and the Porta Ovile there is a main entrance for automobile traffic opening onto the Via Giuseppe Garibaldi.

Siena 13 Main traffic entrance

On either side of this entrance, you might notice a fairly popular image in Siena, a she wolf suckling two young boys. Contrary to what you might think, this is not an image of Romulus and Remus, but instead the local variation on the tale. According to the local traditions, the sons of Remus, Senius and Aschius, fled Rome after the death of their father and came to Siena. The city’s name came from the first brother.

Siena 14 Sienese Wolf

Note that instead of the Roman SPQR (Senatus Populusque Romanus) the base of this statue bears SPQS. Go local, Siena.

Siena 15 Porta Ovile

It is probably a quarter mile outside the city from the wolves to the Porta Ovile. During an earlier run I took the road around the city from Porta Ovile to Porta Pispini. There aren’t sidewalks and the road is steep with many curves–not the safest route to take. So, this time, as it started to rain again, I re-entered the city.

Siena 16 Palazzo Publico

it is a five minute run or less from the Porta Ovile to the Campo. Here’s the worst picture ever taken of the Palazzo Pubblico. My picture of the Campo is a little better.

Siena 17 CampoI turned south from the campo and headed to Porta Pispini, about 5-7 minutes away.

Siena 19 Porta Pisipini

Between Porta Pispini and Porta Romana (under five minutes) a thunderstorm broke out, so this is a terrible picture of the latter with one part of the University of Siena to the right:

Siena 20 Porta Romana

From Porta Roma it is under 10 minutes running to either the Campo or the Duomo.  I took some side streets to get some shelter from the downpour and stood in a doorway to get a picture of the cathedral from the south.

Siena 21 Duomo

Before ending the run I took a picture of the remaining gate of the city, the southernmost Porta San Marco.

Siena 22 Porta Tuffi

The whole route is about seven miles and took me around an hour with some stops for pictures. It is a walkable route too!

Along the way, it is hard not to get distracted by liquid promises like this one:


5 thoughts on “A Running Tour of Siena

  1. I’ve been to Siena twice and never new about the 8 gates. Nice run and tour of the city.

  2. Lovely to come across this on a trawl through your back catalogue – Siena is my “other home city” after Glasgow.
    By the way, in your picture captions you’ve swapped Porta Tufi and Porta San Marco (I’m sensitive to this as the Chiocciolla is my contrada and we are the Popolo di San Marco).

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