On the softly roffing hilis of the countryside between the valleys of the Arbia, the Elsa and the Merse lies Siena. This city with its medievai imprint can be seen in all its sober austere beauty as it unraveis through alleys, small streets, closed-in suburbs, airy squares. it is truly one of the finest examples of a medieval city. Various sporadic finds testify that the area now occupied by the cìty was already inhabited in the bronze age. An Etruscan settlement aiso seems to have been established on the site of the current town. But the first detailed information dates to Rornan times. We, know, for instance, that Siena, at the time Sena Julia, rnust have been a Roman civitas, founded as a military colony by Caesar (a legend maintains that the city was founded by Aschio and Senio, Remo’s two sons). In the Lombard period Sienna was already quite famous. After the Carolingian conquest it was subject to the pre-eminence of the Bishops until the 11th century when it became a free commune. This was when the city experienced its first great period of territorial and urban expansion, thanks to the flourishing commerce and trade which depended on the route followed by the Via Francigena which put the city in communication with the area north of the Alps. In the l2th and l3th centuries the city, by now rich and powerful (Sienese bankers used to lend considerable sums to sovereigns, popes and princes), often clashed with the neighboring city of Florence on which it inflicted a crushìng defeat in 1260 in the famous battle of Monteaperti. These were also the years in which some of the most important trends in medieval painting took form in Siena. Outstanding personalities such as Duccio da Buoninsegna, Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti carne into the world and left inimitable masterpieces, influencing with their works ali of I4th century art. In 1269 the Sienese were this time drastically defeated at Colle Vai d’Elsa by the Fiorentine troops. It meant the beginning of a decline which, with its ups and downs, intensified in the course of the foliowing centuries. In fact in 1487 Siena became a signoria under the aegis of Pandolfo Petrucci. In the l6th century it allied itself with Charles V and then with Philip II and in 1559 surrendered to the troops of Giangiacomo de’ Medici and passed under the dominion of Cosimo I. In the centuries that followed it fell under the Lorraine, following the sorts of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. In 1859 it was the first Tuscan city annexed to the Kingdom of Italy.