Description: Siena is located inland in the central highlands of Tuscany, about thirty miles south of Florence. Its ancient origins supposedly date from the Etruscan period. In the early Middle Ages it became an important post on the Via Francigena, the road that linked Rome with northern Europe. Like Florence, Siena became an important European banking center in the thirteenth century. However, by the 1340’s most of its principal banking houses had gone into bankruptcy. Siena had a long history of conflict over territory with Florence from at least the twelfth century. Ghibelline for most of the thirteenth century, Siena decisively defeated Guelf Florence at the battle of Montaperti in 1260. However, Sienese supremacy was short-lived. In 1269 the Florentines defeated it at Colle Valdelsa. Shortly thereafter (1271), Siena aligned itself with the Guelfs. Governed effectively by the magistracy of the Nine from 1287 to 1355, Siena continued to remain independent of Florence until it was integrated into the Duchy of Tuscany in 1557.