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Siena, a Tuscan icon

Siena: an amazing town with its twirled streets, laid down on the tuff hills that feature its shape. It’s difficult to go to Tuscany without visiting Siena and Piazza del Campo – the perfect stage for the Palio of districts, an open space shaped as a shell at the crossing of three different hills, surrounded by amazing old buildings. It is the civil core of the town and its buildings have got an important role in the history book like for instance the Sansedoni and the Elci Palaces. You will be amazed if you see Piazza del Campo, especially if you observe the tower of the crenellated public Palace where the tower of Mangia that is entirely built with cotto tiles is among the highest in Italy. It is the third ancient highest tower after the Torrazzo of Cremona and the Torre degli Asinelli of Bologna. From its top you can see the whole city – the heritage of Unesco – and the surroundings as well.

Siena represents by itself the best Tuscan landscape featured by the vineyards, the farmhouses, the villages and the castles, the little churches spread everywhere between the Chianti hills and the Crete. In Piazza del Campo the Gaia source, a Renaissance jewel by Jacopo della Quercia and the already mentioned Palazzo Civico stand out, the Palazzo Civico hosts the Civic Museum where the best collections are generally displayed in the famous Globe Room where Simone Martini started the decoration works and the Sala dei Nove where the famous allegoric cycle by Ambrogio Lorenzetti is located; it sums up the civil ideals of the free municipality. Another place that can’t be missed is piazza del Duomo where the huge black and white marble cathedral and the tower bell stand out as well. The Piccolomini bookshop is an example of fine art since it contains the frescoes by Piccolomini as well as the chapel that takes the same name: actually there are four statues in the lower recesses that belong to him. Behind the cathedral there is the baptistery dating back to the XIVth century that contains a beautiful baptismal font made of marble and bronze by Jacopo della Quercia and even Donatello gave his own contribution by making the angels that decorate the ciborium.

Take your time and visit other corners of the town like Via di Città, a lively street of the medieval town sided by elegant boutiques and palaces among which you can see palazzo Patrizi – where the Accademia degli Intronati is based -, palazzo Chigi-Saracini – where the Music Academy is based and a gellery of paintings and palazzo Piccolomini or “delle Papesse”, dating back to the late XVth century. Palazzo Buonsignori, in via San Pietro, together with Palazzo Brigidi host the National Art Gallery of Siena. The church of San Domenico deserves a visit, it overlooks the Fontebranda – the most famous fountain of the town -, the church of Santa Maria dei Servi – from the staircase on which the building was erected you can see a beautiful view of the town -, piazza Salimbeni with the Gothic palace of the same name. Before leaving this town a visit to the Loggia della Mercanzia and the Corte del Castellare degli Ugurgieri is a must; they are the witnesses of the medieval town and feature a core courtyard surrounded by the buildings..

Luciana Francesca Rebonato

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