Matera has won the title of European Capital of Culture and even though we're disappointed in Tuscany, this is a well deserved victory. From the start of the competition Matera has been an eye-catcher. The bottom-up approach of its bid was impressive and once the city council married the idea of Matera's candidature (it had initially been born by a private group of people), the committee was swift in connecting the young and creative local scene to European and international forces.

Young people putting up wooden chairs and tables in front of the Madonna di Provenzano church
Hang on there, this party isn't over yet! #Siena2019

In regard to digital involvement Matera was the benchmark for the other Italian candidate cities with its great website and busy interaction on every possible social media channel from day one of the competition. But what must have been most important to the jury, Matera put together a soundproof bid book called 'Open Future/Open City', which has already started to infuse the people of the Basilicata (once mainly known as Italy's poorest region) with a new, open-minded and positive attitude to their future.  

But Siena, Cagliari, Lecce, Perugia and Ravenna aren't planning to pack up yet. In fact the party has only started. The six Italian candidate cities have been working together on #Italy2019, a project that supports the further development of the ideas and topics from all the 20 bidding Italian cities. 

Dario Franceschini, Italy's minister of culture and tourism congratulated Matera on its win, but also specified that the recently established #artbonus act will provide the shortlisted cities with means to realize some of the proposed projects in their bid books. Whilst Steve Green, head of the jury made up of seven European and six Italian experts, reaffirmed during the press conference that the jurors had been truly impressed by the thoroughness of each single bid book put together by Italy's six candidate cities. Last but not least Tuscany's governor Enrico Rossi has already confirmed the 40 million Euro that the region of Tuscany was planning to invest into #Siena2019. 

So, keep creating Siena! Tuscany and Italy at large are in dire need of your fresh and inspiring energy, and #Siena2019's thought-through concepts which rethink one-way tourism and revitalize the country's cultural life and economic output. 



Red chairs, coffee tables and cypress trees and Siena as a backdrop
Siena - hopefully! 

Today is the big day. The European and Italian jury meets in Rome to proclaim Italy's European Capital of Culture 2019. Two cities in Europe will share the title; Plovdiv has already been designated to be Bulgaria's ECoC city in 2019 whilst Lecce, Perugia/Assisi, Cagliari, Matera, Ravenna and Siena are still in the race for the title in Italy. 

Until 5 pm today that is, when the jury chosen by the European Union will supply the name of the Italian winner. In Siena the press conference will be followed via live streaming in piazza del Mercato (the square below piazza del Campo). From 3 pm members of the Siena 2019 team will meet voluntaries, locals and supporters of Siena's bid in the former market square. Join the crowd for a party with events and live music and keep your thumbs up.

Pier Luigi Sacco and his team have worked hard on an inspiring bid book. If Siena wins the title, every single project in it will be put into practice over the next years culminating in 2019. But whatever the jury's final verdict, be assured that Siena's #ECoC2019 journey to bring back the creative forces into town can't be stopped!

Read on about the objectives of #Siena2019 on the official website or find a summary of the projects in Siena's bid book on this blog


I'm busy helping prepare our Tuscan village's Festa dell'Uva, the harvest festival 2014. But if I wasn't turning moldy medieval cellars into improvised bars stacked with Montecucco wine I'd be giving a hand in Siena today.

Not just Palio horses and Renaissance art.
Join Siena's Magenta Day!


If you explore the Tuscan city today skip Duccio, Pinturicchio and the cathedral for a change and join some contemporary pink frenzy instead. From 10 am the Magenta Day takes over Siena's town center and no matter whether you're a local, an American tourist or one of the refugees who arrived this summer - everybody is invited to join in. Participate and experience for yourself how contemporary culture and innovation are - at last! - back in town. Siena is competing to become European Capital of Culture in 2019 - and judging from today's program SIENA 2019 is doing one hell of a job!

Starting off with a children's event at 10 am in the kids' section of the Santa Maria della Scala museum, a flash mob follows in piazza Gramsci, whilst celebrations obviously also have to take place in via Magenta (magenta road), which will be turned into a Siena 2019 hot spot from 4 pm. At the same time a human chain will form to connect Porta Camollia to Porta Romana along the former pilgrims' and merchant roads that brought Siena to fame and wealth in the Middle Ages. Express your support for Siena's bid to become ECoC2019 by linking arms with whoever is next to you. 

If you love a good old treasure hunt visit piazza Salimbeni from 5 to 5.30pm. You'll be supplied with indications of ten locations in Siena. Find them and take a pic of each on your smart phone or camera before making your way back to piazza Salimbeni. The first ten people or groups of city explorers, who have found the right locations will receive a Siena2019 kit. 

After all the running around enjoy a glass of Tuscan artisan beer at stylish birreria Diana during the inauguration of a photo exhibition about Siena and its people. Then it's time to join the final event (street art and live music), which couldn't but happen in piazza del Campo. For more info check the Siena 2019 website or follow the committee's facebook page

I have to go now and unload more cases of wine - but once you've finished giving a hand in Siena come and join us over the weekend for some partying in the Maremma. My Tuscan village is no runner up for ECoC 2019, but we'll have a good time nevertheless. And if you think our festival is the typical fake medieval fare you better watch this: Wine Harvest Festival in Cingiano


It can still get hot on piazza del Campo by the the end of September, but the locals are already showing off their elegant autumn outfits (likely bought in one of these trendy shops) whilst the tourists still flock around in shorts and straw hats. The start of school and university also brings the last people back from Castiglione della Pescaia (the lovely Tuscan seaside town where a lot of Sienese own their beach houses) and reopens the city's cultural life after all the summer heat. 

Early autumn scene in front of Siena's university  

Siena's wine bar and Jazz club Un Tubo begins the season this week with a concert of singer Barbara Casini (Thursday 25) dedicated to Brazilian rhythms and a tribute to Kenny Wheeler (Friday 26). And from the beginning of October the weekly Jam session will take place every Tuesday evening. Entrance to all concerts is for free. For more info on the gigs this autumn check out Un Tubo's event calendar

Classic music lover will have to bide their time since Micat in Vertice, the winter concert cycle of La Chigiana - Siena's longstanding music academy - is starting only on November 22. 

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