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Siena

  Siena was, during the 12th and 13th centuries, one of the world’s largest and richest cities and a similar size to Paris! An unrivalled period of building took place and the range of palaces, grandiose townhouses and piazzas were built. Without doubt the main square, the Campo is one of the most beautiful you will ever see. Unusually half-moon shaped and surrounded by tall, centuries-old buildings, they are all different embracing an overall harmonious and beautiful style. Siena’s cathedral is absolutely outstanding, one of Italy’s greatest, built from black and white marble with the most intricate carvings imaginable some of which are by the great master himself, Michelangelo. The floor is a revelation with countless thousands of pieces of stone creating a unique inlaid pavement. It is impressive enough now but had a planned nave been completed during the 14th century, it would have created Christendom’s largest church. The city fell into rapid decline after the Black Death, accounting for the city’s astonishing preservation.  

 

Siena Cathedral

  Siena Cathedral, originally designed and completed between 1215 and 1263 on the site of an earlier structure. The exterior and interior are constructed of white and greenish-black marble in alternating stripes, with addition of red marble on the façade. Black and white are the symbolic colors of Siena, etiologically linked to black and white horses of the legendary city's founders, Senius and Aschius.  

 

 

Floor panel, Hermes Trismegistus

 

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 14th to the 16th centuries, and about forty artists made their contribution. The floor consists of 56 panels in different sizes. Most have a rectangular shape, but the later ones in the transept are hexagons or rhombuses. They represent the sibyls, scenes from the Old Testament, allegories and virtues. Most are still in their original state. The earliest scenes were made by a graffito technique: drilling tiny holes and scratching lines in the marble and filling these with bitumen or mineral pitch. In a later stage black, white, green, red and blue marble intarsia were used. This technique of marble inlay also evolved during the years, finally resulting in a vigorous contrast of light and dark, giving it an almost modern, impressionistic composition.

The uncovered floor can only be seen for a period of six to ten weeks each year, generally including the month of September.[8]The rest of the year, they are covered and only a few are on display.

 

 

 

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The She-Wolf of Siena

Capella della Madonna de Voto

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  The pulpit is made of Carrara marble and was sculpted between the end of 1265 and November 1268 by Nicola Pisano and several other artists. This pulpit expresses the northern Gothic style adopted by Pisano, while still showing his classical influences. The whole message of the pulpit is concerned with the doctrine of Salvation and the Last Judgment. In the top level seven scenes narrate the Life of Christ. The many figures in each scene with their chiaroscuro effect, show a richness of surface, motion and narrative. On the middle level statuettes of the Evangelists and Prophets announce the salvation of mankind. The pulpit itself is the earliest remaining work in the cathedral. The staircase dates from 1543 and was built by Bartolomeo Neroni. At the same time, the pulpit was moved from the choir to its present location.  

 

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Saint John the Baptist by Donatello

Piazza del Campo

The colours of the contrade

 

A contrada (plural: contrade) is a district, or a ward, within an Italian city. The most well-known contrade are probably the 17 contrade of Siena whose representatives race on horseback in the Palio di Siena, run twice each year. Each is named after an animal or symbol, and each has a long history and complicated heraldic and semi-mythological associations.

The Palio di Siena; known locally simply as Il Palio) is a horse race that is held twice each year, on 2 July and 16 August. Ten horses and riders, bareback and dressed in the appropriate colours, represent ten of the seventeen contrade, or city wards. The Palio held on 2 July is named Palio di Provenzano, in honour of the Madonna of Provenzano, a Marian devotion particular to Siena which developed around an icon from the Terzo Camollia. The Palio held on 16 August is named Palio dell'Assunta, in honour of the Assumption of Mary.

Sometimes, in case of exceptional events or local or national anniversaries deemed relevant and pertinent ones, the city community may decide for an extraordinary Palio, run between May and September. The last two were on 9th September 2000, to celebrate the entering of the city in the new millennium and on 20th October 2018, in commemoration of the end of the Great War.

A pageant, the Corteo Storico, precedes the race, which attracts visitors and spectators from around the world.

The race itself, in which the jockeys ride bareback, circles the Piazza del Campo, on which a thick layer of dirt has been laid. The race is run for three laps of the piazza and usually lasts no more than 90 seconds. It is common 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 riderless horses finishing the race.

The palio appears in the opening scenes of the James Bond film "A Quantum of Solace"

 

 

Members of a contrada walking the streets shouting their slogans

Parade of the horses

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Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, Piazza Salimbeni

 

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. , known as BMPS or just MPS, is an Italian bank. Tracing its history to a mount of piety founded in 1472 (546 years ago) and founded in its present form in 1624 (393 years ago), it is the world's oldest or second oldest bank, depending on the definition, and the fourth largest Italian commercial and retail bank.

In 1995 the bank, then known as Monte dei Paschi di Siena, was transformed from a statutory corporation to a limited company called Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena (Banca MPS).

 

 

Statue of Romulus and Remus

  In Roman mythology, Romulus and Remus are twin brothers, whose story tells the events that led to the founding of the city of Rome and the Roman Kingdom by RomulusThe killing of Remus by his brother, and other tales from their story, have inspired artists throughout the ages. Since ancient times, the image of the twins being suckled by a she-wolf has been a symbol of the city of Rome and the Roman people. Although the tale takes place before the founding of Rome around 750 BC, the earliest known written account of the myth is from the late 3rd century BC. Possible historical basis for the story, as well as whether the twins' myth was an original part of Roman myth or a later development, is a subject of ongoing debate.  

 

Sallustio Bandini (19 April 1677 – 8 June 1760)
was an Italian archdeacon, economist, and politician.

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Baccus

Piazza del Campo after the crowds have dispersed

The weary Riviera Travellers waiting for the coach back to Arezzo