Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wonderful day in Siena

Yesterday we took a wonderful trip to Siena about 3 hrs North of Rome. Our friends the DeBartolo family are in town visiting us and this was the first time for all of us in Siena.

It looks like this fellow really wanted a parking spot.....

Unfortunately it was chilly and rainy, so we stopped into a bar to get a coffee.

Here's the town of Siena. Siena was originally an Etruscan settlement and has a long and rich history. It's name comes from a legend that it was founded by Senius, son of Remus. Its university is famous as a law and medical school, and the medieval nature of the town is still well preserved.

This is the Piazza del Campo, the main square. It is divided into 9 sections, one each for the 9 divisions that ruled Siena during the Middle Ages. It is also the site of the famous Palio, the horse race that has made Siena known worldwide.

Mom stopped in a ceramic shop to do some shopping.

Our first stop was the Cathedral. Completed in 1263, it is one of the few examples of Gothic architecture in Italy. It is made of black and white stone, Siena's symbolic colors.

A view of the left part of the facade, showing the mosaic the Coronation of the Virgin by Luigi Mussini.

A detail of the main arch, with a symbol of Christ, the rising sun.

The floor of the Cathedral is famous for its inlaid marble designs, and mosaics. Here is an enormous mosaic showing the symbols of various cities throughout Italy.

A view of the rose window. Dating from 1549, it is one of the earliest known examples of Italian stained glass.

The interior of the Cathedral. You can see the striking black and white columns.

The pulpit, the earliest sculpture in the Cathedral depicts scenes with the theme of Salvation and the Last Judgment. It is made of Carrara Marble and is octagonal in shape. It rests on 4 statues of lions, and a central pillar depicting Seven Liberal Arts and Philosophy.

Another view of the inlaid marble floor showing the slaughter of the Holy Innocents.

The chapel of St. John the Baptist, with a statue of St. John the Baptist in bronze, by Donatello.

The funerary monument of Fra Marco Zondadero, a Grand Master of the Knights of Malta.

The magnificent high altar.

A shot showing one of the black and white columns with the dome in the distance. The dome begins as a hexagon but morphs into a sphere near the top.

This is the ceiling of the Piccolomini Library off to the side of the Cathedral. It houses illuminated choir books by Pinturrichio. The frescoes tell the life of Pius II, a son of Siena.

One of the illuminated manuscripts.

The entire library walls had rows of these books, all extremely large, all beautiful.

Next was a lunch break, at a local pizzeria where we got two of these massive pizzas. Pictured are our friends the DeBartolos

Next stop was the church of St. Dominic, which was finished in the 14th century.

The main things to see in this church which was pretty austere are the head of St. Catherine of Siena...........

...and her finger.

The next church we visited, just as the sun came out was the church of San Francesco. This church is famous for hosting the Eucharistic Miracle of Siena.

This is the miracle I mentioned earlier. These are consecrated hosts that have remained intact for over 250 years. The full text can be read by going to this site, which is a must read, to understand this amazing story.

Our last stop of the day was the house where St. Catherine of Siena lived. Here is the church that has been built around it.

Inside the church is the original crucifix in front of which she received the stigmata.

This is one of the rooms of her home which has been totally remodeled and adorned with frescoes showing scenes of her life.


DelGrosso said...

Thank you for all the updates you put on your blog Anthony. It is always great to view.

Barbaranne said...

Years ago I read a story about the Palio and have hoped to visit Siena during the running of that race ever since. I'm sure it was much less crowded for your visit!

Aggie said...

You forgort to tell your readers. The Best part of Siena and how we got to see the Eurcharistic Miracle. Anthony redeemed himself (after a royal dead end road mess, that Sylvia - their affectionate name for their GPS, directed us down) with his timing this day. He bypassed sites to get us to this church, (which later meant alot of backtracking in the freezing cold rain later) before closing. His timing; 10 minute before closing, was perfect. We walked in just as a wedding was finished. The priest took the newly wed couple, the wedding party and their guest on a private tour. Which you know Anthony... he figured we were guest. So following the trail of people, we were led to a small side chapel, which looked like nothing special, very modern designs with a plain tabernacle screen. Then the priest raised the screen to reveal the Eurcharistic Miracle, told the story of it in "Italian" which Anthony translated to us. The couple received a special marital blessing with the miraculous hosts. Then all were allowed to stay for a few minutes to venerate the miracle. If we were on our own, we would have no way of knowing that the Eurcharistic Miracle that we went there to see, was even there, let alone had the chance to see it. Anthony was forgiven, not sure yet about Sylvia.