Dominating the heart of Siena’s old town is the impressive Piazza del Campo. This huge, semi-circular square is where you’ll find the late 13th century Palazzo Pubblico, Siena’s imposing town hall. You’ll also be able to climb the 400 steps of the Torre del Mangia. It takes its name from the first bell ringer, who trekked up and down every time the bells needed to be rung. You might think he’d be slim, but his nickname, Mangiaguadagni, references the fact that he liked to snack all the time. Siena really ups the ante in summer when it stages the dramatic Palio. Riders representing the city’s contrade, bareback and dressed in their district’s colors, loop the Piazza del Campo at terrifyingly high speeds. The tight corners and fast pace make it common for jockeys to be thrown and there’s always a palpable tension as a result. The pageant which accompanies it, called the Corteo Storico, is one of Italy’s most delightful festivals.
3. San Gimignano.