Siena – The city of the Palio and Piazza del Campo

This is an excerpt of the book “Siena, Volterra, San Gimignano

Siena – Piazza del Campo

Siena is one of Italy’s best-preserved medieval towns, located in the heart of Tuscany. Built on three hills and surrounded by well-preserved walls, it is filled with fine examples of Gothic architecture and has one of the world’s most unique piazzas – il Campo – (shaped like a shell with scalloped edges). Of course, the world-famous Palio di Siena is an important part of Sienese identity, history, and culture. Siena is also the birthplace of St. Catherine of Siena Metairie.

Siena – Piazza del Campo & Torre dei Mangia

The heart of Siena is Piazza del Campo, the Piazza where the Palio di Siena is run, famous for its shell-shape, and still the focus of city life. In the square, there is the Fonte Gaia, a fountain unique in its quadrangular form and beautiful figures around the edges.

The famous Torre del Mangia and the Palazzo Pubblico form one of the sides of Piazza del Campo.

The tower was built in 1848 and is 102 meters high, it gives excellent views over Siena and the surrounding countryside. The Palazzo Pubblico was built between 1297 and 1342 and is an example of classic Gothic architecture in Tuscany. It houses an amazing array of frescoes by artists such as Vecchietta, Simone Martini and Sodoma.

Lookout from Torre del Mangia © James Lawson
Lookout from Torre del Mangia
Discovering treasures in Siena’s museums

Siena is an itinerary that joins past and future: just a stone’s throw from the Spedale del Santa Maria della Scala which today houses an important cultural center, you will find the center of Contemporary Art in a Renaissance building.

The wealth of Siena’s museums can offer the 14th-century dreams of Duccio di Boninsegnaand the rich Sienese school that developed from him; and then the works of Iacopo della QuerciaFrancesco di GiorgioBeccafumiSodoma. Riches that belong to the entire territory.

Siena – the Duomo di Siena

The Duomo di Siena is a beautiful building, it is a mix of Gothic and Romanesque architecture with dark green and white marble in the facade. It contains works by many artists, including Donatello, Pisano and Arnolfo di Cambio. One of its main attractions is the marble-inlaid floor, the result of the contributions of many artists. The museum of the Duomo di Siena, in the same piazza, contains some original statues by Pisano moved for conservation and many artworks, including the famous “Maesta” by Duccio di Buoninsegna.

The Duomo – Photo © Axel Cordes
The Duomo – Photo © Axel Cordes

The Siena’s Duomo was begun in the twelfth century, and its main facade was completed in 1380. Its campanile and baptistery make a fine group. It is unique among Christian cathedrals in that its axis runs north-south. This is because it was originally intended to be the largest cathedral in existence, with a north-south transept and an east-west aisle, as is usual. After the completion of the transept and the building of the east wall (which still exists and maybe climbed by the public via an internal staircase) the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned.

In the same piazza as the Duomo is the hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, which now houses a museum complex, exhibiting frescoes, works of art, temporary shows and treasures collected during its millennial history.

end of the excerpt, you can buy the full content: “Siena, Volterra, San Gimignano

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