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Main Square

MUSEUMS IN SIENA

Palazzo Pubblico (Public Building):
with its jointed dimensions following the curves of the square, is one of the two urban fulcrums – the other is the Cathedral – of Siena. The decision of its construction came about approximately halfway through the 13th Century and continued in alternating periods until 1327 (in effect, some parts were added around the 17th Century, yet they blend in perfectly with the original parts). Practically all the areas of the Palazzo Pubblico can be visited: from the underground areas which frequently host temporary exhibitions, to the main rooms of the ‘noble’ floor, rich in admirable frescoes and to the walkways of the upper floor ending at the summit of the civic tower, better known as the Mangia Tower. The Civic Museum is also housed in its interior, with access from the Square: after crossing the Cortile del Podestà (Courtyard) visitors can reach the first floor and carry out the visit in chronological order beginning at the room containing frescoes dating back to the 15th Century (Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Duccio da Buoninsegna) and later leading on to the room dedicated to the Italian Renaissance.


Palazzo Chigi-Saracini:

imposing with its grandiose 14th Century dimensions, fruit of a succession of additions, can be located along the Via di Cittò, the road that from the centre leads towards the Cathedral. It’s the main seat of the prestigious Accademia Musicale Chigiana (Music Academy). In its interior, it hosts the Gallery, rich in precious works of art from the medieval to the Renaissance period.


Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana (Museum of Metropolitan Works):

is located in the first three spans of the right nave of the New Cathedral (that is, what’s left of the medieval attempt to enlarge the unlikely already powerful dimensions of the original Cathedral, which would have then simply become the transept of a gigantic church). The Museum mainly preserves works or art and objects removed from the Cathedral for conservation reasons. There are sculptural masterpieces by Giovanni Pisano (the originals of the statues projected for the facade) as well as pictorial by Duccio da Buoninsegna (with absolute masterpieces by the great Masters: the main altar-piece of the Cathedral), not to mention works by Pietro Lorenzetti and other authors from Siena.


‘Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala:

this immense architectonic complex is in front of the Cathedral; its name derives from a medieval description which defined it as being “in front of the Cathedral’s stairway.” It provokes great interest due to its architectonic complexity (historical milieu from the 13th Century which intertwines with others from the 15th Century) as well as for the quality of some of its decorative frescoes and prospectives which adorn some of its rooms. The structure is also notable for its recent restoration, allowing its transformation into an exhibition centre: an exceptional restoration which wonderfully inserted and blended modern structures within the already existing architectonic complex. In addition to the frescoed rooms, there are those fitted out for exhibitions. The complex also hosts the town’s Archaeological Museum which contains important finds from the Etruscan era.


Pinacoteca Nazionale (National Art Gallery):
is situated in via San Pietro and occupying the space of two buildings, Palazzo Buonsignori and Palazzo Brigidi (also known as “dei Pannocchieschi”). It’s a fundamental stop to enable visitors to discover Siena art dating from the end of the 12th Century to the first half of the 17th Century. It is chronologically set out and the paintings are distributed by School and Pictorial trends. All the main artists are represented: Duccio, Simone Martini, the Lorenzetti’s, Andrea di Bartolo, Sassetta, until the 16th Century and also Domenico Beccafumi.


Palazzo Piccolomini:

is situated in via Banchi di Sotto, in the medieval heart of the City. The building is however Renaissance in style; its construction being from the beginning of 1469. Its interior today houses the State Archives, as well as the Raccolta delle Tavolette di Biccherna (Collection of Tablets by Biccherna): that is the covers of ancient books from the financial administration of the City. Every six months, the magistracy at the end of its administration period, had paintings carried out on the wooden covers of the books of the time, coats of arms of the components of the magistracy itself and a sacred or symbolical scene connected to the most important historical occurrence for that particular period. This tradition spread and was carried out between 1258 and 1682, and the tablets are all dated. Amongst the artists of these works, there are also the main representatives of the Siena works of art.

 

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