Having lost independence in the 16th century, the Siena Republic has sunk into oblivion, and its capital has remained behind the board of political and cultural life. But it was this annoying event that allowed Siena to turn into a photographically accurate reproduction of the Italian Middle Ages over the centuries. The city seemed to forever fall asleep on top of a hill under the rays of the subtropical sun in the guise created by palaces and cathedrals of brick. Their walls keep the buzz of bazaars, the secrets of merchant deals and political intrigues, and also remember the horrors of the black death (epidemic of plague), which destroyed almost the entire population in the middle of the 14th century. However, despite its ancient appearance, youth is in full swing in the city, because almost half of its population is students of the local university. And twice a year, residents give Siena its former metropolitan grandeur by staging the Palio festival in the main square of Piazza del Campo — spectacular horse races in which the Siena contractions compete.