The Center for Cultural Diplomacy Studies

MA Programs in Global Governance, International Relations & Cultural Diplomacy

The programs are offered by the University of Siena in partnership with the Academy for Cultural Diplomacy
Situated in central-southern Tuscany, the Province of Siena extends over some of the most famous and fascinating Tuscan territories, e.g. the southern hills of Chianti, Val d'Elsa and Val di Merse, Val d'Arbia, Val di Chiana and Val d'Orcia, right up to the slopes of Mount Amiata.

The Province's Capital, Siena, is a magnificent city of art with characteristic alleys, wards (rioni) and towers, artisan shops and buildings that make it a not-to-be-missed touristic destination for Italians and foreigners. Moving through Siena's lands and immersing yourself in this atmosphere is a magical adventure, a trip through many landscapes, from dense woodlands to old farms, from clay hills to stupendous paths.

Furthermore, the territory preserves numerous remains from the Middle Ages, springing out along the Via Francigena, the great pilgrimage road to Rome that crossed Val d'Elsa, the city of Siena and Val d'Orcia.

Walking through this countryside, you can admire impressive abbeys such as Sant' Antimo, Romanesque parishes (pievi) and characteristic small towns (borghi) such as San Quirico d'Orcia or San Gimignano, which preserve their original appearance to this day.

The Chianti area, home to the famous wine, is also an enchanting part of Tuscany that hosts tucked-away towns such as Castellina, and dense vineyards, such as those of Radda in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti or Castelnuovo Berardegna, as well as delicious enogastronomic itineraries.

The landscape south of Siena leading towards the Medieval center of Asciano is dominated by the typical Crete, clay lands where erosion has created crevices, openings and cracks. It is an impressive area where the imposing Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore stands out. Val d'Elsa is also very impressive with its characteristic towns Colle di Val d'Elsa, Poggibonsi and San Gimignano, that boasts inestimable artistic heritage.

Val di Merse is constituted of solitary but fascinating places, including the ruins of the San Galgano Abbey that date back to the 13th Century. Val di Chiana provokes emotion and offers its visitors elevated health and well-being, thanks to its thermal spa centers in Chianciano Terme, Montepulciano and San Casciano dei Bagni.

Hills and gullies, Tuscan cypress trees, the river, olive groves and vineyards: this is the landscape animating Val d'Orcia, protected by UNESCO. Here magnificent towns abide, from Pienza and San Quirico to Montalcino and Castiglione; in the west lie Mount Amiata and the solitary Rocca di Radicofani.


A commercial and banking city until surpassed by Florence in the 13th-14th century.

According to a legend Siena was founded by Senio and Ascanio sons of Remus, the founder of Rome. As a result Siena is full of statues of a wolf feeding the two tweens that founded Rome, Remus and Romulus.

In the reality, Siena was a small outpost founded by the Romans under the Imperator Augustus and named Saena Iulia.

Later on, Siena fell under the Longbard domination after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Siena stared to increase its importance under the Franchises, which occupied the city and started to build several infrastructures, such as the famous via Francigena connecting Rome to Paris. Since Siena was located along this road, the city increased its importance for pilgrims and travellers, which allowed to increase the commerce in the area.

However, the growing economic and military power of the city gave rise to inevitable clashes between Siena and Florence, at the time both intended to expand their territories. As a result of the many battles between the two cities in the 13th and 15th centuries, Florence managed to prevail and Siena was incorporated into Florentine territory and administration. Despite this domination, Siena managed to build the masterpieces we can still admire nowadays.

The creation of one of the first bank in Europe (Monte dei Paschi di Siena) had the merit to help the city to become really rich, giving work to its population. In the 19th century when Italy became a Republic, Siena became an integral part of the region of Tuscany and today thrives on the combination of finance and tourism thanks to its beautiful artistic heritage.

The historic centre of Siena has in fact been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is one of the nation's most visited tourist attractions, with over 163,000 international arrivals in 2008. Siena is famous for its cuisine, art, museums, medieval cityscape and the Palio, a horse race held twice a year since 1644, when the first Palio was created.

Touristic Attractions

The first leg of the itinerary leading to the discovery of the territory is Siena, the city famous for its Palio and listed as World Heritage by UNESCO for its singular artistic heritage.
The historical center is dominated by Piazza del Campo, one of the biggest Medieval piazzas. It is shell-shaped and is the stage for the famous Corsa del Palio (Silk banner horserace). Here stand monuments of great value, such as the 13th-14th-Century Palazzo Pubblico (the town hall), a true jewel of the Gothic and home to the Civic Museum; the Piazza Chapel, upon which stands the bell tower, Torre del Mangia, and Jacopo della Quercia's marvelous Gaia Fountain (in actual fact, the Piazza holds a copy, while the remains of the original are preserved in the Museum Complex of Santa Maria della Scala).

One of the city's numerous art treasures is the Duomo (12th-14th century), one of the highest expressions of Romanesque-Gothic art, abounding in sculptures, paintings and works of architecture, also home to the Opera Metropolitana Museum, exhibiting masterpieces by famous artists such as Duccio di Buoninsegna, Ambrogio Lorenzetti and Taddeo di Bartolo. Two other of the city's art treasures are the imposing Medici Fortress in red brick, commissioned by Cosimo I in the mid-16th Century and the elegant Loggia della Mercanzia, a transition architectural work from Gothic to Renaissance style.

A place of great devotion is the House and Sanctuary of St. Catherine of Siena, the Patron Saint of Italy and Europe. The structure, built around the house, comprises chapels and cloisters richly-decorated by various artists.

Not to be missed is the Pinacoteca Nazionale housed in the elegant Palazzo Buonsignori, featuring a collection of 13th-16th-Century works of the Sienese school.

In addition to the marvelous City of Siena, not to be missed are the Crete and the Natural and Cultural Artistic Park of Val d'Orcia, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for the beauty of its landscape and an inspiration to many Renaissance artists. Here stands a city of particular importance, Pienza.

It too is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site for the wealth of its monuments and its rational organization of space and perspective. Pienza is the "ideal city," created upon the wish of Pope Pius II for a city built according to Renaissance ideals.

In the Val di Chiana area lie other delightful towns. Montepulciano is located upon a hill from where it dominates the valley, with its rising and falling slopes in a typically-Medieval atmosphere. Chianciano Terme is important for its beneficial waters that were famous as far back as Etruscan times, and is home to the beautiful Museo Archeologico delle Acque (Water Archaeological Museum). Chiusi is a small town with an internationally-reputed Etruscan museum.

In Val d'Elsa, charming are Monteriggioni and San Gimignano, also called the "city of towers" for its numerous towers and tower-houses that render its skyline quite unique; it was the symbol of Medieval mercantile power. This characteristic Medieval borgo, under the tutelage of UNESCO, boasts a remarkable artistic legacy, including the marvelous Collegiata (13th Century), the Gothic-Romanesque St. Augustine's Church and the Palazzo del Popolo - site of the Civic Museu, upon which stands the Torre Grossa (Big Tower).

Other characteristic towns abound in the Sienese territory: of particular ntoe is Montalcino, home to the famous Brunello wine, and the nearby St. Antimo's Abbey, a splendid example of Romanesque-Tuscan style with Lombard influences.


These areas include: the majestic Torre del Mangia, which is one of the most famous part of the "Palazzo Pubblico" of Siena, the Civic Museum and its cycles of frescoes with both civil and religious themes and which represent the Sienese art.  Moreover, visitors can enjoy typical themes related to the city such as "The Allegory of Good and Bad Government" by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, "De viris illustribus" by Taddeo di Bartolo, "Maestà" by Simone Martini, and others.

Finally, there is a large exhibition space for temporary exhibitions recovered inside the "Palazzo Pubblico" called "Magazzino del Sale" (Salt Warehouse).

Culture and events

Every year the City council of Siena organizes several events accessible by the whole population. These are some examples of events organized in 2013:

Stagione Teatrale 12-13: the city council organized several exhibitions in one of the most beautiful theatres of Italy, the so-called "Teatro dei Rinnovati"

Siena Festival: Aseries of events regarding music, theatre, photography and cinema that will be repeated also in 2014. (

The famous "Palio" of Siena

A moment of the horse race On the 2nd of July and on the 16th of August in Siena, Piazza del Campo, there is the traditional Palio, a horse race bareback (without the saddle) among different districts of Siena. This is the expression of the ancient and deep-rooted traditions of Siena that monopolizes the attention of the city for several days. The Palio is the result of careful and maniacal organization by the city districts, leading an active social life and associative throughout the year. There are in all 17 districts (Eagle, Caterpillar, Snail, Owl, Dragon , Giraffe, Porcupine, Unicorn, Wolf, Goose, Wave, Panther, Forest, Tortoise, Tower and Valdimontone ), ten of which participate in the Palio. The draws take place about a month before the actual race.

Academic life

According to a study of the famous Italian newspaper "La Repubblica", the University of Siena has resulted to be the best University campus in the whole Italy in terms of relationship between the quality of the research and the dimension of the University. More in detail, the analysis focused on several indicators such as services offered to students - canteen and accommodations -, scholarships and facilities provided University - libraries and other meeting room - and services for International students.


One of the best places where students can meet up and study is the famous and striking "Biblioteca comunale degli Intronati", who was opened to the public use in 1759.

Where to live in Siena

According to an annual study ordered by one of the main Italian newspapers (Il sole 24 ore) that compares the quality of life in the main Italian cities, Siena in 2012 has resulted to be the second best city where you can live in Italy (

There is not a best area in Siena where you can live, as every choice is rather personal and depends on many variables. However, some areas should be avoided, especially those where houses have windows on the seats of the districts if you do not want to hear the typical songs during the celebration days with trumpets, drums and so on.

If what you want is the proximity, the best houses are located slightly off the center but still inside the walls. According to many students, the areas of Via Camollia, Porta Laterina and Sperandie are preferable to others due to the University and the most popular spots of the night life.

Moreover, regarding the personal security, walking in Siena at any time of the day or night is not dangerous at all.

However, if you prefer saving up some money it is best to leave the walls of the center. The Sienese countryside is one of the most beautiful part of Italy and you can find nice rooms at a lower price. If you do not have a car, however, consider that the public service for the center may be not frequent.

Initiatives for young people
The city council has recently introduced a public and free wifi network accessible in the four main squares of Siena: Piazza Il Campo, Piazza Duomo, Piazza Gramsci e Piazzale Rosselli.

Despite the fact that Siena may seem like a quiet city, you can still find a variety of bars and pubs, to meet friends for a beer or glass of good local wine (Chianti), such as the bar "Al Cambio", a late night spot for university students, with live rock music and full of people during the weekends. Another typical bar is "Bar Porrione" situated near the central Piazza del Campo. This bar is a hot spot in the nightlife of University students for its cheap drinks.

Much time is spent strolling from cafe to cafe, and gathering with friends at Piazza del Campo to listen to live music in one of the several events organized during the year, watch performances by improvisational entertainers such as fire eaters and clowns, or just enjoying a gelato and the view. Moreover, it will be possible to enjoy the city and its beauty by taking a "passeggiata" the traditional evening walk through the city and socializing with friends in one of the numerous squares of Siena.

How to reach the city
Siena is situated in the centre part of Italy and is quite well connected to the other main cities by public transportation. The nearest international airports to Siena are Peretola Airport in Florence and Galileo Galilei International Airport in Pisa. There are 2-3 buses daily (Sena line) between Siena and Bologna Airportas well. These are the distances from the main cities:

Bologna 170 km
Firenze 70 km
Milano 365 km
Napoli 430 km
Roma 235 km