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Siena, Piazza del Campo
Photo © Ramiro Castro Xiques
Photo © Ramiro Castro Xiques

Family holidays around Siena

Museums, vegetable gardens, steam trains and curiosities for a family-friendly stay

A holiday with children in the Siena territory can be an occasion to travel at a slower pace to truly appreciate and savour the best of the natural marvels that this land has to offer.

Here are some ideas for a made-to-measure holiday for the family, from museums brimming with curiosities for the little ones to old steam trains that cross the most beautiful landscapes of the Siena territory.

Natural History Museum at the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in Siena
Natural History Museum at the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in Siena - Credit: Accademia dei Fisiocritici

The Children's Museum of Art in Siena, located inside the museum complex of Santa Maria della Scala, the historic hospital for pilgrims along the Via Francigena, offers an especially created path to bring little ones closer to the world of art. Inside there's a vast collection of works dedicated to childhood, ranging from Etruscan, Greek and Roman art, to contemporary art.

Next let's head to Piazzetta Silvio Gigli, to the Natural History Museum at the Accademia dei Fisiocritici in Siena and its collections of stones and stuffed animals, to discover the natural history of the Siena territory, while the sight of the 15-metre whale skeleton in the courtyard ensures a visually impactful welcome!
Among the many things that could intrigue children are the preserved containers (ampulla) made of the original clay from which derives the colour “Sienna, taken from a fossilised lake of the Amiata.   

Also of great interest for young visitors is the Valenti Serini Collection devoted to mushrooms. The reproductions in coloured terracotta offer an extraordinary display which, through 3D visuals, teaches visitors to recognise the many varieties that can be found in the region’s woods, which at times, if careless, can present some ugly surprises.

Children in the Botanical Gardens in Siena
Children in the Botanical Gardens in Siena

Ideal for families is a visit to the Botanical Gardens of the University of Siena, which was founded in the 16th century as the "Garden of Simples", namely dedicated to medicinal plants, and was once annexed to the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala. Today, it's located next to the Natural History Museum at the Accademia dei Fisiocritici, in a valley of great beauty and splendour, enclosed within the walls and the Sienese palaces.
There are many species of plants gathered here: from those typical of Tuscany to fruit trees, from exotic plants and flowers to a collection of succulent plants. It's a corner of Siena ideal for a relaxing break: you can rest on a bench in the shade of a magnificent leafy tree, while the children discover the colours and shapes of plants wandering the vegetable patch paths.

The Nature Train in Tuscany
The Nature Train in Tuscany - Credit: Frank Andiver

Lastly, a step back in time that kids will love: a travel on the Nature Train, the old steam engine that allows to discover the most hidden glimpses of Tuscany, running across areas far from the main routes and immersed in this highly panoramic territory, between the Val d’Orcia, the Siena territory and Mount Amiata. It’s a special outing, the perfect occasion to be moved by a landscape and an old countryside station, with an unusual, romantic yet fun mode of transportation.

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