2012.5.30~31Famous for its art and religious works, Siena was once a rival to Florence for the dominance of Tuscany from medieval time to the Renaissance. Today, the city is an UNESCO heritage site. It may be the best preserved medieval city in Italy, thanks to its conquest by Florence – as Florence became bigger and busier, Siena turned its focus on building the city to retain its traditions and blend into its surrounding landscape.

Tourists’ vehicles are not allowed to enter the inner city. From our hotel, alone Via Roma, it takes 15 to 20 minutes to walk to the city center. At the first day morning, I got up at 6am and had a walk in the city. In the early morning, tourists had not taken the streets yet.

Siena
Siena

The view of the shell-shaped brick-paved public square, Piazza del Campo, is a signature image of Tuscany. At one end, there sit the tower of the town, Torre del Mangia, and the city hall, Palazzo Pubblico; at the other end, it’s the Fonte Gaia (Fountain of Joy). Every year, two horse races, Palio, are run in the piazza, to promote pride and rivalry of among 17 contrade of Siena.

Piazza del Campo, Siena
The stitched panorama view of Piazza del Campo.
Torre del Mangia, Siena
View the Torre del Mangia from the surrounding street.

When I walked to the Piazza del Duomo, where Siena’s main cathedral is located, the morning sun just started lighting up the piazza. The churches were immersed in the warm golden sunlight.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Siena
Santa Maria della Scala (the Hospital), now the National Archaeological Museum, across across the Piazza del Duomo from the cathedral, Siena

Siena’s main cathedral is a Romanesque-Gothic style church. Its west façade is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. The façade was built in two stages, the lower part was designed in Tuscan Romanesque style, the statues and pinnacles of the upper part was heavily influenced by French Gothic architecture.

Central gable and right tower of the Duomo, Siena
Central gable and right tower of the Duomo, Siena
Facade statues of the Duomo, Siena
Façade statues in Gothic style on the left tower of the Duomo, Siena
Facade statues of the Duomo, Siena
Delicate statues on top of the centeral portal of the Duomo, Siena

After spent the rest of the day in the country side, we returned to the city center the next day morning.

Torre del Mangia and Palazzo Pubblico, Siena
Piazza del Campo, Siena
The marble loggia of the Torre del Mangia, Siena
The marble loggia of the Torre del Mangia was put up after the Black Plague, Siena
Siena
A shop next to Piazza del Campo, Siena

We paid a small entrance fee to get into the Duomo.

Interior of the Duomo, Siena
The most striking feature of the Duomo’s interior is the black and white marble stripes on the walls and columns, Siena
Pulpit of the Duomo, Siena
The pulpit was sculpted by Nicola Pisano, who just completed his work of the pulpit of the Pisa baptistery. His son, Giovanni Pisano, extensively involved in the project, then in turn sculpted the pulpit inside the Duomo of Pisa.
Stained-glass window in the Duomo, Siena
The stained-glass window of the Duomo, Siena
The inlaid marble mosaic floor in the Duomo, Siena
The inlaid marble mosaic floor in the Duomo, Siena
Piccolomini Library in the Duomo, Siena
The colorful frescoes inside Piccolomini Library in the Duomo, Siena
Dome of the duomo, Siena
The dome of the Duomo, Siena

The Duomo was supposed to be enlarged to double its current size, but the Black Plague in 1348 stopped the effort. We climbed to the top of the unfinished façade. From there, we had a panorama view of Siena.

The dome and the bell tower of the Duomo, Siena
The dome and the bell tower of the Duomo viewed from the unfinished façade, Siena
Piazza del Campo, Siena
Piazza del Campo viewed from the unfinished façade, Siena

Walking out of the Duomo, we had a lunch at Trattoria Papei at Piazza del Mercato, right behind Piazza del Campo.

The church of Santa Maria dei Servi, Siena
Overlook the church of Santa Maria dei Servi through the narrow street, Siena

We left Siena at afternoon and drove to Florence, which is only 50 miles away. We returned our car at the airport, which is the best decision I made of the trip, and took taxi into the city.

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