sottotetto duomo

It took months of work but on  April the 6th the Cathedral of Siena opens its attics that were never opened to the public.
With an experienced guide you walk  spiral staircases almost hidden from visitors’ view and  in small groups you are taken over the vaulted stars of the right aisle. From there it begins a journey where view range from inside to outside the cathedral. You can visit Ulisse De Matteis windows with the representation of the Apostles and the gallery where you can admire the view on the main altar. From the left aisle  visitors can admire a breathtaking view of the Basilica of San Domenico, the Medici Fortress and the entire cupola of St. John the Baptist.
Much more is to discover if you decide to  participate in an event of historical and emotional impact like no other, organized by Opera – Civita Group
For information

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Today we are going to speak about  wonderful Majesty  painted by Duccio Buoninsegna.  This great artist was able to melt the precious Byzantine style with the French Gothic.

The Majesty of Duccio was commissioned in 1308 to be placed above the High Altar of the Cathedral of Siena. On June 9th 1311, all the enthusiastic citizens carried the Majesty in procession from Duccio’s laboratory to the Cathedral.

The first thing that draw the attention is its complexity.
The great altarpiece was painted on both sides. On the front, which faced the nave, there was the representation of Our Lady seated on the Throne with Child, surrounded by angels and saints. The first four kneeling saints are the patrons of Siena: Ansano, Savino, Crescenzio and Vittore. On the other side, on the back, Duccio painted 26 panels which represented the Passion and Resurrection of Christ (among these the biggest panel is dedicated to the Crucifixion).
The altar piece was originally decorated with a wooden strip (with stories of Jesus’ childhood and life) and a gothic crowning (gable) describing life scenes of Virgin Mary and Christ. In 1505, the Majesty was moved to the altar of S. Sebastian and in 1771 the masterpiece was cut to separate the front side from the back and remove other panels. During this operation  the Gothic frame was destroyed. In 1878 the Majesty, so sectioned, left the Cathedral and was definitively transferred to the Opera del Duomo Museum in Siena, where it still lies today. Unfortunately, during this transfer, some panels were lost and others “traveled” towards foreign museums and collections.
With the Majesty Duccio completed his painting experience on the thirteen century and he became a source of inspiration and a teacher for the following century.

Source:” Tutta Siena Contrada per Contrada” by  Pietro Torriti

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Sansedoni Palace in Siena is located in Piazza del Campo and it is the most noble palace after the Town Hall. Easily recognizable by its majestic façade made of red bricks, the building has a tower with a rhomboid plan. The tower, built in conjunction with the first part of the palace in the middle of 1200, was 62 meters high, but later it was demolished and today it remains only a part.

The architectural story of the building is very complex, it provides, in fact, over time, for the unification of different distinct dwellings. As previously mentioned, the first news about the building is around the middle of 1200, then a document of 1340 attests to its expansion, finally a total revision between 1600 and 1700 leads to the final renovation thanks to which it’s possible to admire the unique façade that follow the curve of the square and reproduces the style of the Palazzo Pubblico with the new Gothic current typical of the Baroque period.

The building owes its name to one of the most prestigious Sienese families which orders its construction during Middle Ages. The first news about Sansedoni family dates back to 1174 when Sansedonio di Martino is elected consul of Siena. The family soon becomes one of the most famous of the city with members elected to major public offices.
One of the
leading figure is Ambrogio Sansedoni (1220-1286), a Dominican friar who was ambassador to the Pope Gregory X and he managed to revoke the excommunication of the city. Another person worth mentioning is Rutilio Sansedoni built a chapel in honor of Ambrogio Sansedoni, a real baroque jewel where still nowdays the Mass for the anniversary of his death is celebrated.

The interior of the building has beautiful decorations, precious polychrome marbles, inlaid stones and bronzes, the typical splendour of the Medici court to which the Sansedoni’s were devoted . The frescoes with mythological allegorical subjects were painted by members of the Florentine school as Anton Domenico Gabbiani (1697), Francesco and Giuseppe Melani (1726), Giovanni Domenico Ferretti Pietro Anderlini (1745).

Sources: Siena On line / Archivio di Stato Firenze / Siena aperto per restauro.

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(from December, 1st  2012 to January, 27th 2013).

Siena Crypt and  Piccolomini Library will host “Puer Natus”, an unusual exhibition dedicated to the magnificent illuminated parchments inspired by the history of Jesus childhood as the “Annunciation”, the “Nativity”, the” Adoration of the Magi” (Three Wise Men) and the” Introduction of Jesus at the Temple”.

For the first time the anthems of the Piccolomini Library will be open on a paper (page) that differs from that on display at the permanent exhibition, while in the Crypt  Jesus’childhood will be represented through precious anthem books belonging to the end of the thirteenth century and coming from the Archive of  the Museum of the Duomo (the Cathedral).
The visit to the Crypt will be accompanied by listening to Gregorian chants linked to the Liturgy of Christmas.
The anthems will also be virtually browsed (to better admire the valuable features) thanks to touch-screen reproductions.

All inclusive ticket € 8.00 (Puer Natus, Crypt, Piccolomini Library, Cathedral, Baptistery  and Opera Museum). Free entry for residents and children under 11 years.

For information, reservations and guided tours: +39 0577 286300

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Palazzo Chigi, one of the most beautiful historic buildings of Siena, temple of art, and base of the prestigious Academy Chigiana instituted in 1932, reopens to the public.
The Palace was built in the middle of the twelfth century by the powerful Ghibelline Marescotti family and was, before the Public Palace, seat of the Council of the Republic of Siena.
The last owner was the Count Guido Chigi and thanks to him, in the Palace it was established the Chigiana Academy, an international center for advanced musical studies.
The fame of Chigiana spread throughout major cities in the world and started to attract important musicians.

Many events are still  connected to this site, as the summer courses of specialization, or the winter season of concerts called “Micat in vertice” and others special Music Festivals.


 Palazzo Chigi opens its doors again to all who wish to admire the splendid halls of the Academy and part of his important art collection. Among the many masterpieces you can see works of Beccafumi, Sodoma, Botticelli and many other great masters.

Guided tours, lasting one hour, will be held on Friday and Saturday at 11 a.m., 12 a.m., 3 p.m. and 4 p.m until November, 3rd, 2012.

For more information and reservations please call the Chigiana Palace (+39) 0577-286300 (Monday to Friday from 9 5 p.m.).
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Source: via Hotel Siena on Pinterest

From this year, every Saturday morning at 10.30 am it will be possible to make a special visit at Santa Maria della Scala Museum of Siena

It is a tour that will show you some great places and environments related to water, primary asset at all times, inside the ancient hospital complex.

Considering the difficulty of finding such a city, like Siena, that does not have any major river that run here it is already a matter of interest to join the initiative.

The tour will be illustrated by the Guides Association Diana which has always worked for the city of Siena. You will visit the places and monumental remains of tanks, wells hidden (like the well known as the ‘Rotone’) and wash normally not open to the public.

Booking required within Thursday before the visit by telephone from 9.30 to 17.30 the following numbers 0577 / 534511-0577 / 534501-0577 / 534502-0577 / 534504-0577 / 534505 -0577/534507

The cost is 4 euros per person.

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Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex
14-15/20-21-22 April 2012 from 10.30 to 18.30
(Ticket office closes at 17.30)

April 14, 2012 17 hours
Lalut – Center for Research and Theatrical Production

April 20, 2012 17 hours
Lalut – Center for Research and Theatrical Production

Free admission by reservation tel. 0577 292615/14 (Monday / Friday 9.30 – 12.30)

The day of the visit, even if there is availability, you can book the ticket by going to the Santa Maria della Scala by 16 hours.

If you run out the availability of the first visit (max 30 people) you can book for a second visit at 18.30. This visit will be with a minimum of 10 participants.

The meeting point is at the ticket office in Piazza Duomo of Santa Maria della Scala Museum Complex.

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“La Repubblica tutela il paesaggio e il patrimonio storico e artistico della Nazione” art. 9 Costituzione Italiana

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie want to promote this event:

Fai’s daily activity is to protect and promote a unique heritage that belongs to each of us.
For this reason they organize special events in order to:
-take care of the wonderful places that are entrusted
-take care of Italian landscape at risk and threatened
-organize awareness-raising activities for all citizens

On 24th and 25th March 3 historic buildings will be open to public

Indirizzo: Via Banchi di Sotto, 55, 53100 Siena (SI)
Orario: Sabato 24, ore 11.00 – 17.30; Domenica 25, ore 10.30 – 17.30

indirizzo: Via Montanini, 118, 53100 Siena (SI)
Orario: Sabato 24, ore14.30 – 17.30; Domenica 25, ore 10.30 – 17.30

Indirizzo: Via della Cerchia, 5, 53100 Siena (SI)
Orario: Sabato 24, ore14.30 – 17.30; Domenica 25, ore 10.30 – 17.30

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A masterpiece of medieval hydraulic engineering in Siena


Perhaps not everyone knows that Siena is formed by two equally beautiful cities, one above and one under ground as the Emperor Charles V said when he visited our town.

That ‘over’ one is the jewel that all of us know and admire with its magnificent square, the Campo, a shaped shell, divided into nine segments in memory of the Government of the Nine in which Siena reached a peak cultural and political, famous worldwide for the Palio and surrounded by important historical buildings that give the feeling of being almost in the room of an exclusive private home … but at open sky. Very romantic especially when it is illuminated by the moon.

The city ‘underground’ is formed by the ‘Bottini’, a gallery, an underground waterwork dug just below ground, the works of which lasted for many years, which at the beginning was used to supply the public water sources and fountains and later also the private wells and tanks distributed throughout the city through the collection of rainwater infiltration and veins in the surrounding hills. The water was very important not only for personal needs but also to tame the fires which in that period were very frequent and for irrigation of private gardens and orchards.

The Bottini were held by two municipal employees who subsequently, when the water became for private use under payment, should sign the consumption and report the amount payable to Gabella. Very interesting is to see the system through which was’ calculated ‘the amount of water consumed.

Today you can visit the Bottini of Fonte Gaia and Fonte Nuova of Vallerozzi contacting the association La Diana which takes care of its maintenance.

Visiting the Bottini remind that you have to get all lined up behind your guide because the width is enough just for one person. Don’t forget to wear proper clothing as boots (sometimes the water level can be a little ‘high’) and a sweater because there is a lot of humidity underground. Bring with you also a flashlight with a replacement battery because there is no type of artificial lighting and a bottle of water because the journey takes minimum one hour. Of course you must not be claustrophobic because there are no windows or emergency exits.

While you walk along the Bottini you are not able to notice the different levels reached in some parts of the trail but your guide will tell you every time under which ‘streeet’, ‘historic building’ or ‘shop’ you are.

To complete the visit of Bottini we suggest you a tour of the water sources, fontains, wells and tanks located in the city ‘above’ and which are samples of architecture masterpieces. In fact during the Medieval Age the ‘decorum’ concept was very strong and it was reflected also in these elements considered nowadays just urban design.

The Water Sources:

— Fontebranda: the most complex source composed of three levels: in the first level ran the drinking water, in the second level the water for animals and in the third level the one used to wash clothes.
— Fontenuova of Vallerozzi: here there is a path of the Bottini
— Fonte del Casato: very suggestive for the steep staircase in front that certainly made a little bit heard for the local people the transportation of the water inside their houses
— Fonte Gaia: in the Campo : another route open to the Bottini
— Fonte di Ovile: outside the medieval walls
— Fonte di Pescaia: even this outside the walls

The Fountains:

— Fountain of Pispini
— Fountain of Ranocchie
— Fontino of San Francesco
— Fontana located in via delle Vergini (at the bottom of the alley called Vicolo della Viola)
— Fountain of Fortezza Medicea

The ‘Fontanine’: each contrada has its own small fountain where every year there is the the baptism of new borns as membership.

The Wells: some of them are in the courtyards of private buildings and therefore do not have a proper name. If you find the main entrance gate open you can enter to look at them.

— Banchi di Sotto, 69: currently there is a front gate
— Banchi di Sotto, 81: once entered you have to pass another door in front of you
— Via San Martino, 51
— Vicolo delle Carrozze
— Via Montanini, 92
— Via delle Terme, 17
— Piazzetta Luigi Bonelli, 1
— Pozzo at Santa Maria della Scala
— Pozzo at Palazzo Chigi Saracini
— Pozzo at Palazzo Patrizi located in Via di Città
— Pozzo at Palazzo Placidi in Pantaneto, 7
— Pozzo at Piazza Jacopo della Quercia
— Pozzo of San Marco
— Pozzo at the Saint Catherine’s Sanctuary
— Pozzo at Palazzo delle Papesse (Museum of Contemporary Art)

The Tanks:

— Via Calzoleria
— Vicolo degli Orefici
— Vicolo dei Percennesi
— Via dei Lombardi

If you are not able to visit the Bottini don’t worry. You can get an idea going to the cinema this Fall to see the movie Quantum of Solace – 007.

Last months Siena has turned into a kind of open sky movie set of 007. Some frames had to be set in the Bottini by ‘script’. It was not possible but the Town Hall of Siena gave the Production the possibility to make a visit of the Bottini so that they would be able to reproduce them in their studios. We are sure that Hollywood will not disappoint your and our expectations and that you will have a realistic perception of what the Bottini are.

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Open from Monday to Saturday three times a day at the following fixed hours:
9.30 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. – 11.30 a.m

There are some hidden gems in Siena which escape the mass tourism because they are less publicized. One of these is represented by the Tavolette di Biccherna preserved in the Archivio di Stato of the city. They are wooden boards painted with tempera or oil which served as covers of records belonging to the office of Biccherna which from the beginning of the Comune until the SEC. XVIII was the judiciary responsible for the administration of public revenues. These records were kept by the Camarlingo -the treasurer head office- who was a friar and the most important officials, the Provveditori (supervisors)

Fraiar Ugo, Camarlingo, frair of san galgano, made by Giulio di Pietro in 1258. This is the oldest Biccherna.
The arms of the four Provveditori; made by Diotisalve di Speme in 1263
The first wooden boards are simple and have no intention of being masterpieces. Subsequently, however, the paintings become more elaborate and rich and are commissioned to famous authors as Giovanni di Paolo, Sano di Pietro, Lorenzo di Pietro called il Vecchietta.

The layout of the boards remains, however, unchanged: at the top there is the painting and at the bottom the inscription bearing the date, the names of the main components of Biccherna, the arms of their families.

By the mid-fifteenth century, then, the covers of records were no longer painted but real paintings were commissioned to hang on the walls of the office when the Camarlingo and the Provveditori left definitively their assignment.
The subjects of the scenes represent leading events of the town, religious themes, episodes of contemporary politics.
Many of them have Our Lady as common subject. This is not so strange for us. The history of Siena is full of events which show the particular devotion of the Sienese to Our Lady.
See for example how nice is the follow board which represents Our Lady in the act of protecting Siena by earthquakes; made by Francesco di Giorgio Martini in 1467:
Or this other which represents The union of the classes and the offering of the keys of the city to the Madonna delle Grazie; made perhaps by Andrea di Niccolò in 1483. This board is important also because testifies the original location of the Maestà made by Duccio di Buoninsegna in 1311 in the Cathedral, that is to say, in the altar. Nowadays you can see this masterpiece at the Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana.
As the Biccherna also another important financial judiciary of Siena called Gabella adopted the custom of painting the covers of some records. The Gabella was responsible for the outcome of the charges and was directed by a Camarlingo –a treasurer- and officers named Esecutori –executors.
One of the most popular boards is that made by Ambrogio Lorenzetti in 1344 which represents the Buon Governo – Good Government:
The most value works are those performed during the fifteenth century by painters such as
Sano di Pietro: Siena protected by Our Lady while the Camarlingo washes his hands, made in 1541

Benvenuto di Giovanni: The finances of the town in peace and in war made in 1468
Guidoccio Cozzarelli: Our Lady leads the Republic of Siena in calm waters; made in 1487
During the war of Siena (1555-1559), both the Biccherna and Gabella wanted to recall the most salient episodes of the conflict:
The Sienese demolish the fortress of the Spanish; made by Giovanni di Giorgio in 1552

The siege of Montalcino; made by Giovanni di Giorgio in 1553

The surrender of Montalcino; made by Giovanni di Giorgio in 1559
After the final annexation of Siena to the duchy of Florence (1559) many subjects were dedicated to the story of the Medici, to which the Sienese territory was granted in fief.

The Sienese pay tribute to Cardinal Ferdinando de Medici elected Grand Duke of Tuscany; made by Anonymous in 1588
Here you find also some wooden boards which belong to other institutions and judiciaries of Siena among which the Ospedale Santa Maria della Scala and the Opera Metropolitana.
The Museum is located in Via Banchi di Sopra # 52 and it is open from Monday to Saturday at 9.30 – 10.30 and 11.30
Free entrance.

There is no tour guide but there are some panels also in English which explain what you see.

Before to leave the Museum do not forget to stop at their balcony from where you will enjoy an amazing view onto the main square Il Campo.

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