Siena is an historic medieval city in the region of Tuscany, located in the north of Italy, and lying some 70 km (43 miles) south of Florence. It is probably best known for a colourful horse race, Il Palio, conducted twice each year in the summer
Places to See:
- Siena’s cathedral, the Duomo, begun in the twelfth century, is one of the great examples of Italian romanesque architecture. Its main facade was completed in 1380. Its campanile and baptistry 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 may be climbed by the public via an internal staircase) the money ran out and the rest of the cathedral was abandoned. Inside is the famous Gothic octagonal pulpit supported on lions, and the labyrinth inlaid in the flooring, traversed by penitents on their knees. Within the Sacristy are some perfectly preserved renaissance frescos by Ghirlandaio Beneath the Duomo, in the baptistry is the marvelous baptismal font with bas-reliefs by Donatello, Ghiberti, Jacopo della Quercia and other 15th-century sculptors. The Museo dell’Opera del Duomo contains Duccio’s famous Maestà (1308–1311) and various other works by Senese masters. More Senese paintings are to be found in the Pinacoteca.
- The shell-shaped Piazza del Campo, the town square, which houses the Palazzo Pubblico and the Torre del Mangia, is another architectural treasure, and is famous for hosting the Palio. The Palazzo Pubblico, itself a great work of architecture, houses yet another important art museum. Included within the museum is Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s series of frescos on the good government and the results of good and bad government, there are also some of the finest frescoes of Simone Martini and Pietro Lorenzetti.
- On the Piazza Salimbeni is the Palazzo Salimbeni, a notable building and one of the oldest banks in continuous existence and a major player in the Senese economy.
- Accademia Musicale Chigiana, Siena’s conservatory of music.
- The Medicean Fortress houses the Enoteca Italiana and the Siena Jazz School, with courses and concerts all the year long and a major festival during the International Siena Jazz Masterclasses. Over two weeks more than 30 concerts and jam sessions are held in the two major town squares, on the terrace in front of the Enoteca, in the gardens of the Contrade clubs, and in many historical towns and villages of the Siena province. Siena is also home of Sessione Senese per la Musica e l’arte (SSMA), a summer music program for musicians, is a fun/learning musical summer experience.