Siena’s biggies

After breakfast on il terrazzo at our hotel (with the aforementioned view) we headed for Il Campo and the 300 plus steps of the Torre del Mangia (tower of food). The immense medieval tower is so called because the keeper of old literally ate up all his wages. After climbing to the top I can understand why. But the view was worth the effort.


We then hit the Museo Civico in the town hall. The highlight was the fresco by Lorenzetti titled The Effects of Good and Bad Government. The good side depicts a benevolent ruler overseeing happy citizens enjoying music and dance, conducting commerce and bringing in a bountiful harvest. On the bad government side we see a satanesque ruler, corrupt officials, crime and violence in the streets. Siena’s civic government was one of the first to emerge from the feudal chaos of medieval Europe. These frescos, in the halls of local government, sent a clear message.

Hunger stricken from our effort we hit a local deli and grocer for a picnic at our hotel.


After a well earned siesta we visited the Duomo and accompanying museum. The Duomo is in my top ten in Europe. The style ranges from late romanesque to early gothic.


Treasures abound, Donatello’s John the Baptist, the incredible floor mosaic of the Slaughter of the Innocents, Pisano’s 13th c. marble pulpit, Bernini’s Saint Jerome.


But for me the pièce de résistance was Duccio’s Maestá in the museum. This altar piece of Mary enthroned with baby Jesus is one of the most sublime paintings I have ever seen. And I’ve seen a few. Unfortunately photos in the museum are verboten so you’ll have to goggle it to see for yourself.

Still in a state of grace, we trekked through the back lanes of medieval Siena to our hotel and a little break before a light dinner at some local trattoria.

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