I've written a self-guided Siena itinerary (Siena in a Day for Unanchor.com), so it's not like I think you can only explore Palio town in company of an expert guide. 

However when I first listened to Elena Sardelli's explanation about the mysterious history of the re-discovered crypt below Siena's cathedral, I've got reminded that humans still have a few advantages over audio, e- or paper guides.

Siena with a local, tour guide Elena Sardelli
Siena tour guide Elena Sardelli in Piazza del Campo

If you're anything like me, you'll want to know the historic dates (so as to immediately forget them) and the intelligent background information (so as to forget it latest once back home). 

So, how to remember? Obviously, nowadays with photos, the support of a good travel book and Wikipedia, one can dig out some of the debris of clever things that have been learnt abroad. However, a proper meeting with a true local is the one kind of travel memory my faulty inner hard disk never manages to delete (this kind of 4-D information must be too complex to get rid of). 

In some cases, this is a pity, because I'd really rather not remember all of the grumpy receptionists I've ever had to deal with. But it's a true gift when the local is an inspiring personality, who uses a guided tour not just for the passing on of textbook knowledge, but as a chance for an interactive encounter with her beloved hometown.

Born and raised in Siena, Elena knows all the historic bits and pieces, but connects the dots between them with the memories and emotional baggage of a life spent in Palio town. You'll know she's a hardcore Sienese, once she says that she's well, yes from Siena... but really from 'il Nicchio' (Siena's contrada/neighborhood of the shell). 

Whatever your memory's shortcomings, a walk through Siena in company of this thoroughbred Tuscan is going to be one of the positive travel moments you won't forget.

SIENA TOUR GUIDE by Elena Sardelli
Looking for a quick introduction to Siena's highlights or a custom designed itinerary during Palio days? Or would you rather go for private lunch in one of Siena's luxury homes or a hike through the surrounding countryside? 

Find these and other tours on Elena's website (click on the link above) or just get in touch with her directly for more details: elena@sienatourguide.com.

Prices of the guided tours start from 120/150€ per group for a 2 to 3 hours tour (museum entrance tickets are to be paid separately).  

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