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One of the great things about visiting Siena, Italy, that quiet, sun-kissed Tuscan town, is that you have to work for it. You may arrive by car or by train, but you’ll still have a walk ahead of you, as the main train station is located outside the walled city, as are the parking spaces for tourists.
By the time you reach the old city, you’re rewarded with the sense that you’ve entered an out-of-the-way locale. It’s narrow medieval streets, churches, and squares await.
We don’t mean to suggest that Siena is some undiscovered jewel. After all, more than one million tourists visit each year.
But there are plans afoot to expand a nearby airport, once used for military purposes and recently converted for civilian use. We enjoyed yesterday’s piece in the New York Times about the locals who are fighting the proposed expansion of the airport, which could open it (and thus the entire area) to low-cost carriers, as well as major airlines.
Siena’s city planners expect that the change could bring an additional 500,000 tourists a year to the town. With the new tourists, the locals fear the arrival of related services, such as outlet shopping malls, hotel chains, and restaurants. That would be the part of Tuscany you would crop out of the photo.
Alas, we will wait to see how this plays out. We’re cheering on the residents of Siena — even if it means still taking the train from Florence. And then walking…