A Day in Siena
A 15 minutes’ drive from the Castello di Grotti allows visitors
to get into Siena. The most convenient parking area (guarded) is the
one by the Fortezza Medicea (the 16 th century mighty
fortress that the Medicis had architect Baldassarre Lanci build as soon
as they gained control over the city).
Today one may enjoy milder experiences under the fortress’ vaulted
ceilings where the Enoteca Italiana organizes wine-tasting venues. This
is also where the "Settimana dell’olio" prize-giving
takes place: olive oil being, along with wine, one of the most precious
and celebrated products of the Province of Siena.
Visitors should be aware that every Wednesday morning (up to 2 p.m.)
a lively open-air market takes place in the adjoining area: parking
may be a bit difficult, but the market stalls – with all their
varieties of goods – are well worth a visit.
Once past the Church of San Domenico - where a famous fresco representing
St Catherine (1347-1380) never fails to evoke the important role played
by this religious figure in the history of the Papacy – visitors
are drawn to the inner areas of the city through the via Banchi di Sopra.
The Palazzo Salimbeni on the left (now the seat of the ever-so Sienese
banking enterprise – the historic Monte dei Paschi ) and the impressive
Gothic Palazzo Tolomei further down on the right, seem to prepare the
ground for the great visual explosion represented by Piazza
This has been Siena civic center since the mid-14 th century: a contemporary
of St Catherine, the Franciscan monk St Bernardino used the square as
a stage for preaching his famous sermons. Writer Iris Origo has devoted
one of her earlier studies to St Bernardino: he was also responsible
for the founding of the monastery of the Osservanza just North of Siena.
The Palazzo Pubblico presides over the amazingly-shaped Piazza
del Campo. Sitting at one of the cafés that line the square,
visitors may enjoy the laid-back atmosphere and mull over medieval Sienese
achievements. The construction of the Palazzo Pubblico that still
today hosts the City Council took about a century. The Torre
del Mangia, the slender belfry that allows for unforgettable vistas
atop a steep climb of stairs was completed just before the Black Death
broke out during the 14th Century. The interior of the palace has frescoes
by top-artists of the Sienese school: Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Simone Martini
being among the most prominent.
Once exiting the Palazzo Pubblico and taking left, visitors will climb
the gentle slopes of Via di Città.
The Contemporary Art Museum is hosted at the Palazzo delle
Papesse - Via di Città, 126 - (probably
designed by Bernardo Rossellino,in the second half
of the 15 th century, at the request of Caterina Piccolomini,
sister of Pope Pius 2°).Further up the street is
the Palazzo Chigi-Saracini, presently the seat of the
well-known Music Academy (Accademia Musicale Chigiana) and of the recently
restored art collection of Count Galgano Saracini. By reaching via del
Capitano and turning right, one will reach the awe-inspiring Piazza
The Duomo representsone of Italy’sgreat
Gothic churches (despite some of its still Romanesque elements). The
construction was begun during the 12 th century and finished one century
later. The stunning polychrome marble façade is to be largely
ascribed to Giovanni Pisano who is also responsible for the statues
of philosophers and prophets (whose originals are now held at the Museo
dell’Opera Metropolitana, steps away from the Cathedral
Sometime around 1339, the city’s administrators planned for
an enlargement of the Cathedral: it should have been called "il
Duomo Nuovo". But the Black Plague stopped such an ambitious project:
its remnants may be seen in the Piazza Iacopo della Quercia, on the
Eastern side of the present Duomo. In the summertime open-air concerts
are organized within this fantastic space, evocative of human dreams.
The interior of the Cathedral, with its black-and-white walls and
pillars, is well worth a visit. The striking inlaid-marble floor (the
56 panels are kept covered during much of the year, but the Tourist
Information Office would know the dates for their display); the marble
pulpit sculpted by Nicola Pisano; the Libreria Piccolomini (decorated
by Pinturicchio and depicting scenes from the life of Enea Silvio Piccolomini,
Pope Pius 2° ) are amongst its outstanding features.
The Baptistery of St John is down one flight of stairs
from the Cathedral and represent an interesting example of Gothic art.
The font is said to have been designed to Iacopo della Quercia.
The Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana –
P.za Jacopo della Quercia – Siena - Is hosted within the extant
parts of what should have been the "Duomo Nuovo". Such artworks
as Duccio da Buoninsegna’s "Majesty" (early 14 th century)
and Iacopo della Quercia’s sculptures deserve a visit.
The Ospedale di S.Maria della Scala - Piazza del
Duomo - Siena - 0577 224811
firstname.lastname@example.org - Until recentlywas theonly
public hospital in Siena. Originally a hospice for pilgrims on their
way to Rome. Located on the South-West side of the Piazza del Duomo
it now has been turned into a highly sophisticated arts center. One
of its remarkable features is the huge Sala del Pellegrinaio (early
15 th century). The walls are covered with interesting frescoes by Vecchietta
and Domenico di Bartolo: they depict everyday life as was typical of
such a welfare institution.
Perhaps the day is drawing to its close. Yet here are other artworks
and monuments that it would be worth visiting:
Palazzo Chigi Saracini - via di Città 89 -
Siena - 0577 246928. – Now home to the Accademia Musicale Chigiana
– Collection of Sienese art.
Museo Archeologico "Ranuccio Bianchi Bandinelli"
- Palazzo Pretorio – P.za del Duomo – Siena. The museum
bears the name of the famous Sienese archaeologist and hosts objects
from the 6 th century B.C. to medieval times.
Museo Archeologico e della Collegiata - Piazza della
Libertà – Siena - Archaeological Museum (mainly Etruscan)
that holds also important Seines artworks.
Museo Civico - Palazzo Comunale – P.za Duomo
2 - Siena - 0577 292263 – One of the most important public gothic
buildings containing masterpiece of the seinese story and art.
Palazzo Piccolomini - Banchi di Sotto 52 –
Siena – By Bernardo Rossellino - Museo delle Tavolette
di Biccherna – Sienese painters from 1258 to 1682 .
Pinacoteca Nazionale - Palazzo Buonsignori - Via
San Pietro, 29 – Siena – Painters from XII cent. to XVII
cent. Duccio da Boninsegna, Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Pietro
Lorenzetti, Michelino da Besozzo, il Neroccio, Francesco di Giorgio
Martini, Sano di Pietro, Pinturicchio, Domenico Beccafumi, lo Scarsellino,
Federico Zuccari, il Sodoma, Duerer, Andrea Mantegna,
Accademia dei Fisiocritici - P.zza S. Agostino, 5
- tel. 0577 47002 – Accademy founded in 1691. Geology, zoology
and human anatomy
Antiquarium di Poggio Civitate – Museo Etrusco
- Piazza della Cattedrale – Murlo, Siena - 0577 814099 -
www.comune.murlo.siena.it - Etruscan site prosperous
from the 7th to the 6th century B.C. Excavations are still under way
at Murlo (South-East of Siena).
S. Nicolò al Carmine - Pian dei Mantellini
- rimodernata dal Peruzzi ( XVI sec.) conserva le reliquie del Beato
Franco da Grotti (v. la cappella a lui dedicata presso i Castello
Le Logge del Papa – Banchi di Sotto –
Build by Papa Pio 2° (Enea Silvio Piccolomini)