This is the central public space of Siena, and was built between 1280 and 1350. Its extraordinary quality is much to do with its irregular shape -a bit like a clam shell. It is probably best known as the location of the Palio horse race.
The tower is that of the Palazzo Publico. This photo was taken from the top of the walls of the unfinsihed transept of Il Duomo.
We never go to places like this in season. We visited here a number of times in October, and in the early morning. It was warm and peaceful and , as the morning went on, began to bustle with the work of the locals as they prepared for the tourist influx later in the day. When the first bus group arrived, we left for the art and the churches. Siena is wonderful at any time, but out of season it can be a transformational experience.
The trick that really worked for us was to stay in Asciano - an
attractive small town with no tourists at all out of high season, and
about 20 minute's drive from Siena.
Asciano also has a station from which it is easy to travel to Siena, Florence, and Rome for the day. Thus we had all the benefits of a car for visiting the smaller places, but did not have to worry about parking in the larger centres.