The heart of Siena is its central piazza known as Il Campo, famous for the famous Palio run here, a horse race run around the piazza two times every summer. For most visitors, the compact medieval heart of Siena is where they will spend all their time
Piazza del Campo in Siena
Piazza del Campo in Siena is considered one of the most beautiful places of the world. It has a characteristic shell-shape divided in 9 slices, you can admire this particular form from the top of the tower del Mangia. From the 1300 this square it’s the centre of everyday life of Siena and it has the function of market place, of meeting point for all the city dwellers during important political moments or celebrations, for example twice a year in occasion of the well known palio. Today Piazza del Campo is the tourist place par excellence, the point you must see of the city, full of souvenirs markets (which doesn’t damage the beauty of the place). The slight slope makes the silhouette of the tower del mangia with the palazzo pubblico even more impressive while all the place is surrounded by beautiful and impressive nobility houses. The tourist rite in this place wants the people to sit or lie down on the ground to admire the sky in very unusual and original position. Actually it is a way to rest after all the ups and downs in the city’s alleys. On the top of the place there’s the “fonte Gaia” one of the most beautiful fountains of Siena. It was carved by Jacopo della Quercia between the 1409 and the 1419, the one you can admire in the place today is a copy of the original.
The Cathedral of Siena
Tourists usually arrive at the Cathedral after visited Piazza del Campo, so they didn’t expect to remain surprised again. Nobody thinks that can be something else of so spectacular. Well, they wrong. There’s still the Cathedral with its black and white frontage. It has a stupendous frontage and it has a stupendous interior too. This impressive church is dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption. The richest jewels are in the inside: the floor full of esoteric symbols and religious stories: for example all the sibyls of the history, the slaughter of the innocents, king David, Hermes Trismegist, the life of Moses and the Sacrifice of Iefte. In the left aisle, just before the transept, there’s the Piccolomini Library, frescoed by Pinturicchio, that in spite of the name it never housed the books of the Pope Pio II. Just beyond the library there’s the Piccolomini Chapel, in which there are 4 statues made by Michelangelo (he worked there from 1501 to the 1504), his statues ornate the 4 inferior niche of the Chapel. The pulpit deserve attention too: there are represented scenes taken from the Bible and Jesus life, it was made by Nicola Pisano.
Torre del Mangia in Siena
If you suffer from vertigo maybe you shouldn’t go on the top of this tower which is 88 meters high, but we warn you: you’ll lose an exceptional view. Up there the spectacle is breathtaking, you can see all the city: The place, the Cathedral and all the hills that surrounded the city. The tower takes its name from Giovanni Duccio, first keeper of the tower, also known as “mangia-guadagni” (Litterally: “Money eater”, in Italian it’s a way to call people who waste their money), who spent all his money eating in all Siena’s taverns. That’s why the tower is called “Torre del mangia” (Litterally: Mangia’s tower). The legend tells that during the construction at the foot of the tower were hidden some lucky coins and that at the 4 corners of the tower there are stones on which are engraved sentences in Latin and Hebraic with the task of keeping away thunders and storms from the tower.
The Baptistery of Siena
The Baptistery is situated just at the back of the Cathedral. From 1325 it compete with the Cathedral for the role of the most important religious building in Siena. Under its ogival arch all the Siena’s city dwellers have been baptised. On the nave and the two aisles you can find the frescos by Benvenuto di Giovanni ( “The miracles of Saint Anthony of Padova” – 1460) Pietro degli Orioli (“The washing of the feet”) and Lorenzo di Pietro known as “il Vecchietta” (he made the frescos on the vault that represent “the articles of Faith”, 1447 – 1450). But the protagonist of the baptistery is the baptismal font made of bronze and marble and situated in the centre of the church. It has been created by the great artists of that period: Jacopo della Quercia, Giovanni di Turino, Lorenzo Ghiberti and Donatello. The latter realized two of the six bronzed angels which decorate the canopy.
The Public Palace of Siena
The Public Palace of Siena is the seat of the political power of the city. Since the “9 government” (that in 1300 made Siena become the beautiful city that we can see today) to nowadays all Siena’s governors lived there. If only nine politics succeeded in thinking and realizing these wonders we would expect something better from the thousand politics that in this times crowd the city halls.
The Public palace of Siena is considered one of the most beautiful civil palaces in Italy. It has always been admired for its harmony and majestic. A beauty yet perceived during the construction of the palace, so much that the city government during the works passed an edict that obligated the owners of the buildings in piazza del Campo to build their houses observing rules of stylistic coherence, but, at the same time, they should not be more beautiful or bigger than the Palace. In the Palace there’s the Civic Museum of Siena too, decorated with the famous frescos of Ambrogio Lorenzetti which represent the allegories of good and bad government.
The civic museum in Siena
The civic museum in Siena houses one of the most known allegories of the world: the allegory of the good and bad government, painted on the walls by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. In 1337 the “government of the 9” asked Lorenzetti to decorate the room (where the guests were received), with a fresco that representing the ideals that guided the city and its governors. For the first time an allegoric fresco cycle had a civil subject and not religious. The result is this allegory that tells how a good or a bad government can decide the well-being or the decadence of the society. The other great protagonist of the Museum is the “Majesty” painted by Simone Martini, the nine’s asked this work to testify the great devotion of Siena’s city dwellers to the Virgin.