Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I can't believe I'm actually getting several posts done in one day! We found ourselves in Sienna two days. We first visited on Sunday, after our day in San Gimignano. Unfortunately, it was late afternoon and we really didn't have enough time to explore the city. So, we ventured back on Wednesday to try our luck again. The most interesting part of our day was driving around the city trying to find someplace to park. Come to find out, Wednesday is market day in Siena so the city was packed. We finally got all settled in and started our journey through Siena.

Siena is another Tuscan town that was settled in the time of Etruscans. At one time, it was a major city of banking and the financial industry. In time, it fell to Florence and it's great reign came to end.

Our first view of the city through the trees....sigh.

Jason, Donna and Regina checking out the local fruit.

Fruit too beautiful not to take a picture of....

Jason and Dick obviously enjoying some Italian humor.

The Torre del Mangia. Built in 1325-1348, it is located in the Piazza del Campo, Siena's premier square, adiacent to the Palazzo Pubblico(Town Hall). When built it was one of the tallest secular towers in mediaeval Italy.

The marble loggia, known as Cappella di Piazza, was added in 1352 as a vow for the Holy Virgin by the Sienese survivors from the Black Death. The tower is visible from all parts of Siena and was built to be the exact same height as the Duomo di Siena as a sign that the church and the state had equal amounts of power.

The walls of the tower are approximatelty 11 ft. thick on each side. The stairwell up to the top of the tower is cramped and most visitors need to duck their heads at some point on the way up the tower. There is little room for two way traffic on the stairs, so only 25 visitors at a time are allowed to enter the tower...here's two of them now!

The girls hanging out at the top of the Torre del Mangia

Another day...another tower climbed by these two sisters.

I love Siena's rooftops...

Jason and Donna persuing the counryside...

A view from an ancient window...

The Piazza del Campo from the top of the Torre del Mangia. The Campo is the town square and is famous for hosting the Palio horse race.

I have no idea what was going on but it was quite a treat to see this group in their costumes...complete with drums and monks.

The Duomo del Siena

In the interior the pictorial effect of the black and white marble stripes on the walls and columns strikes the eye. Black and white are the colours of the civic coat of arms of Siena. The inlaid marble mosaic floor is one of the most ornate of its kind in Italy, covering the whole floor of the cathedral. This undertaking went on from the fourteenth to the sixteenth centuries, and about forty artists made their contribution. It is truly a spectacular church to see in person. Unfortunately, it's hard to take pictures so I don't have anything that does it justice.

This is my favorite part of the Duomo...The Piccolomini Library, housing precious illuminated choir books and frescoes painted by the Umbrian Bernardino di betto, called Pinturicchio, probably based on designs by Raphael.

The visual impact of these very colourful frescoes is stunning. The frescoes tell the story of the life of Siena's favourite son, cardinal Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who eventually became Pope Pius II. He was the uncle of cardinal Francesco Piccolomini Todeschini (then archbishop of Siena and the future pope Pius III), who commissioned this library in 1492 as a repository of the books and the manuscript collection of his uncle. The ceiling is covered with painted panels of mythological subjects. They were executed between 1502 and 1503 by Pinturicchio and his assistants.

To see these frescoes in person is amazing...they are extremely bright and colorful and look like they were painted yesterday.

The amazing ceiling:


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