At Via di Città 126 is the Palazzo delle
Papesse’s contemporary art gallery
. Besides its permanent
collection by Micha Ullman,
Perino Vele and Antonio Catelani there are
temporary exhibitions. Go up to the terrace to admire the views of town
(tel. 0577 2 20 71).
On the same street is the Palazzo
Chigi-Saracini (Picture 1)
. In the 18th and 19th century it was given the Gothic style we all admire today. It is said that from the palazzo’s tower a young
boy in the battles between the Sienese and the Florentines told the
Sienese hordes below how their side was doing against the Florentines.
The Accademia Musicale Chigiana has its base in this palazzo.
(National Art Gallery) is housed in the Palazzo
Buonsignori dating back to the 1300s. It has the most remarkable
collection of Gothic masterpieces by artists of the Sienese school. The
collection shows the difference between the Byzantine and Gothic
Sienese artists and the Renaissance Florentine. Perspective, emotion
and movement that the Florence artists had found out how to show in
painting were still absent in the Sienese school.
On the ground
floor, Rooms 27-32 and 37 have pieces by Mannerist Domenico Beccafumi
and Il Sodoma, whose Christ Tied to the Pillar
shows him in tears.
the first floor, the first two rooms display pre-Gothic pieces. Duccio
di Buoninsegna and his followers’ works are displayed in Rooms 3 and 4.
The Madonna of Mercy
, depicting Mary sheltering society, and Madonna
d by Simone Martini are also here. Rooms 7 and 8 are devoted to
Pietro and Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the other three rooms are dedicated to
artists of the early 1400s.
Giovanni di Paolo’s pieces hang in
Rooms 12 and 13. A pair of them departs from the typical guidelines of
the Sienese school. Lack of gold, some strokes of perspective and
emotion and innovative architectural subjects appear for the first time
in Presentation of Jesus in the Temple
Nearby the Pinacoteca
Nazionale is the 13th century Chiesa di Sant’Agostino
(tel. 0577 38 57
86; Prato di San Agostino) which was commissioned by the king of Naples
and planned by Vanvitelli. Because of the fire in the church, its
interior was decorated in the rococo style in the 18th century. The
Adoration of the Crucifix
is in the south aisle and Il
Sodoma’s Adoration of the Magi
is in the Piccolomini Chapel.
Gothic Chiesa di San Domenico
in the piazza of the same name is stunning, though it has been repeatedly modified throughout
In accordance with the Dominican style, the interior was
designed in a simple way. Near the entrance lies the Capella delle Volto,
where Saint Caterina’s portrait hangs. It is the
place where Caterine made her religious vows and supposedly worked miracles.
those times it was customary to preserve the body. Thus, Saint
Caterina’s head is kept in a tabernacle of the altar in the Cappella di
. Her dried up thumb is also displayed here along with a whip
she used for self castigation. The rest of her body is in Rome.
Her house, Casa di
is located on Costa di Sant’Antonio (tel. 0577 22 15
62). The rooms were made into chapels in the 15th century and are frescoed
by the Sienese school with events of her life. Some of her belongings
and her cell are in different rooms.
was her and her large family's house. A passionate devotee to religion
from very young age, at 7 she decided to remain a virgin for the rest of
her life and when she was a teenager she would go for days without
eating. These periods alternated with periods she devoted to taking
care of those in need. There are endless letters she dictated to send
to powerful figures during the period. She was an influential ambassador for Florence going to Avignon to bring the Pope back to Rome. She died at 33, was canonized about 80 years later, and was named "Doctor" of the Church
in the 20th century. Fortezza Medicea
or Forte di
Santa Barbara (Picture 3)
commissioned by Cosimo I de Medici in the 16th century is
a classical fortress dating from the beginning of the Grand Duchy when Florence had taken control of Siena.
for the Loggia dei Mercanzia
dating from the 15th century which used to
be crowded with merchants doing business in the old times. Then head
east along Banchi di Sotto to observe the Renaissance Palazzo
(Picture 2), the city´s archive. Continue eastwards to find Pietro
Lorenzetti’s frescoes in the 13th century Basilica di Santa Maria dei
and the Porta Romana
built in the 1300s.
Departing again from
the Loggia dei Mercanzia along Banchi di Sopra is the 13th Palazzo
Tolomei at the edge of the square of the same name. Then heading north
you reach Piazza Salimbeni
flanked by Palazzo Tantucci, Palazzo
in the Gothic style and the Palazzo Spannocchi
in the Renaissance
style and fronted by 29 busts watching over observers.
Piazza Salimbeni going northeast on Via dei Rossi you find the Chiesa
di San Francesco
which was used as barracks and survived a fire.
Nextdoor is the Oratorio di San Bernardino
(tel. 0577 28 30 48; Piazza
san Francesco 9) where there are frescoes by il Sodoma and a museum
displaying religious works.