Siena’s Duomo rises in the middle of Piazza del Duomo with white and dark green marble bands along the sides, typical of the interest in color and line of the Gothic style in Siena. The façade was begun by Nicola Pisano and developed by his son Giovanni, and was then finished under the direction of Lorenzo Maitani. Nicola Pisano, Duccio di Buoninsegna, Antonio Federighi, Donatello, Pinturicchio, Domenico Beccafumi, Michelangelo, and Bernini are just a few of the artists who worked in the Cathedral, giving testimony to the importance of this site for artistic development. Of note is the intricately inlaid marble floor, begun in the fourteenth century by anonymous artists and finished in the nineteenth century, using the technique of graffito and marble inlay with designs prepared by painters trained in Siena, including Sassetta, Domenico di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, and Domenico Beccafumi.
In the Baptistery, of note is the baptismal font of marble, bronze and enamel, created by Lorenzo Ghiberti, Donatello, Jacopo della Quercia and Giovanni di Turino.
Museo dell’Opera dell Duomo – Home of the original sculptures and paintings which once adorned the exterior and interior of the Duomo. Famous above all for its outstanding collection of marble statues of ancient prophets, sibyls, and philosophers carved by Giovanni Pisano between 1285 and 1297, and Duccio’s great altarpiece of The Virgin and Child Enthroned in Majesty, known as the “Maestà,” the museum contains other masterworks by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Taddeo di Bartolo, Sano di Pietro, Matteo di Giovanni, and Domenico Beccafumi. Other significant pieces in the collection are wooden sculptures by Francesco di Valdambrino, Jacopo della Quercia, and Francesco di Giorgio Martini.
Pinacoteca Nazionale – This collection holds numerous treasures of Sienese painting, including Duccio, Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Simone Martini, Sassetta, Domenico Beccafumi and Lorenzo Lotto. Of particular note is the room dedicated to the astounding and immense drawings in plaster by Beccafumi; a request is in process to allow students access for sketching in the museum. Via San Pietro, 29. Open Mondays, 9 – 13:00, Tuesdays-Saturdays, 10 – 18:00. 4 euros.
Click here to download the PDF version of the Pinacoteca Brochure.
Museo Civico – The city museum of Siena, this museum holds some finest frescos of the Sienese School of political importance. Of note, the Maesta fresco by Simone Martini, the Allegory of Good and Bad Government fresco cycle by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, the Virtues of Illustrious Men and Gods fresco cycle by Taddeo di Bartolo, and ceiling frescos by Domenico Beccafumi.
Entrance from the courtyard of Palazzo Pubblico, Open 10:00-19:00, entrance 8 euros.
Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex – Spread over 4 floors, this former hospital is now a museum housing several halls and special exhibitions, most recently Da Jacopo della Quercia a Donatello. Numerous Sienese artists completed works here, such as Ambrogio and Pietro Lorenzetti, Simone Martini, Jacopo della Quercia, and Sebastiano del Conca.
Piazza Duomo, 1 (right across from the Duomo). Open daily from 10:30-18:30. Entrance 6 euros.
Piazza del Campo – Siena’s heart is its central piazza known as Il Campo and world-reknown for its famous Palio, a festival and horse race that takes place on the piazza itself two times each summer, July 2 and August 16. The ten jockeys ride bareback, circling the Piazza del Campo three times and the race usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is not uncommon for a few of the jockeys to be thrown off their horses while making the treacherous turns in the piazza and indeed it is not unusual to see horses finishing the race without their jockeys. The Palio in fact is won by the horse who represents his city ward or “contrada,” and not by the jockeys. A horse who wins without a jockey is known locally as winning “scosso.”