Turisti per casa is the name of the guided themed  tours  that every second and fourth Sunday of the month, until February  2014 will take place in the Pinacoteca di Siena at 11 am, just before lunch . Why not to tale advantage from 20% discount that some restaurants  recognize if you show the Pinacoteca ticket



Borgo Grondaie has a special love for  this museum ,  that is why we have  chosen it as the venue for the 2013 edition of the Digital Invasions  Event. In this regard there is this very interesting  post written by Dominique Papi Cipriani, a professional photographer known  at the time of the  Digital Invasion, who recounts with sincere gratitude the experience of that day.

We join with enthusiasm  this initiative, which has allowed us to investigate the origins of the  Pinacoteca collection  and become aware of curiosities related to certain works such as the Santa Petronilla Altarpiece by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and the dramatic story of the beautiful Ghismunda from Bernardino Mei .
The event is organized by the guides of Siena (Federagit) with the support of Confesercenti of Siena.
Therefore it’s a pleasure to  share with you  the calendar of next visits,  time and topics and invite you to participate because it is really worth it.

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  www.operaduomo.siena.it

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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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The Majesty of Simone Martini inside the Public Place of Siena is by sure one of the masterpiece of 14th Century.

Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie has already posted articles regarding the Public Palace and its beauties  and  the cycle of frescoes painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Inside the PublicPalace there is a beautiful room called “Mappamondo (World Map Hall)” , the place where the Grand Council Of Nine Delegates met. The room takes its name from a work unfortunately lost. It was a rotating disc made of wood and parchment on which Ambrogio Lorenzetti painted a map representing all the possessions of Siena. Now it remains only the signs on the wall that the rotator motion produced. Under these signs, it’s possible to see the remains of a fresco painted by Duccio.


In this room the work that better represents the political mindset of the Government of Nine is definitely the Majesty of Simone Martini, completed and signed in 1315 (restored later, in 1321). The fresco is one of the most lofty masterpiece of all Gothic painting in Siena.
Under a canopy supported by eight apostles, the Virgin Mary and Child sit on the throne surrounded by angels, saints and other apostles. The large band that frames the composition includes 20 medallions with figures of Christ, prophets, and evangelists. In the Court that surrounds the Virgin, the angels hand out cups full of flowers and the four patron saints of Siena (S. Ansano and S. Crescenzio -kneeling on the bottom left- S. Vittore and S. Savino -kneeling at the bottom right).
Simone Martini, in his masterpiece, differs from the rigidity of Byzantine tradition that can be seen, for example, in the Majesty painted by Duccio di Buoninsegna. It’s possible to see this difference observing the naturalness and human nature of Our Lady’s face, and also the movement of the canopy and the garments, the figures that almost seem to sway and the brightness of pure gold of the throne and haloes.

Representing the image of “Our Lady”, the rulers of Siena want to pay homage to the Virgin. The choice of the fresco demonstrates the desire to create something lasting in order to extend  the message to the future generations. More specifically, this message is the Virgin’s  direct warning  the  the rulers and their governance in order to have always Her protection.
This concept of the common good finds its consecration in the fresco cycle painted by Ambrogio Lorenzetti and dedicated to the Effects of Good and Bad Government .

Sources: “Tutta Siena contrada per contrada”by Pietro Torriti / “Storia di Siena ” by Barzanti, Catoni, De Gregorio.

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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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Following the procedure of previous posts about Piazza del Campo (Campo Square), we can not forget Fonte Gaia (Gaia Fountain).

In 1343 the Government of “Nine Delegated” decided to bring water to the Campo Square.

The first fountain was inaugurated in the general joy of the citizens ( hence seems to derive the name Gaia = joyful).

Placed in the upper part of the square, the fountain was fed by a subterranean water system still known today as the “bottini of Siena”.

In the early years of the Fifteenth century, more precisely from 1409 to1419, the fountain was replaced by that of Jacopo della Quercia. His work remains one of the most important masterpiece in the sculpture of the Fifteenth century in a period of transition from Gothic to Renaissance.

Jacopo della Quercia placed in the middle of the fountain the marble statues representing Virgin Mary and Jeus with two angels which are followed by Theological Virtues, Cardinal Virtues and Justice; later he added other sculpters depicting the Creation of Adam and the Fall from Paradise;

in the end the two statues representing Acca Larentia and Rea Silvia (Romolo and Remo’s mother and nurce).The marble statues made by Jacopo della Quercia remained in the Campo Square until

the mid-nineteenth century when, outworn by then, they were replaced by copies (the ones we see today) made by Tito Sarrocchi.

The originals are now in a room of The Museum “Santa Maria della Scala” in front of the Cathedral of Siena.


From the book: “Tutta Siena contrada per contrada” by Piero Torriti


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Hotel Siena Borgo  Grondaie dedicates this post to the Chapel of the Piazza del Campo, a marble building that stands beneath the Torre del Mangia in the forward position to the facade of City Hall.

Siena ordered its construction in 1352, after a vow made because of the terrible pestilence of 1348, which “froze” in Siena many works in progress. The construction of the chapel continued until late fifteenth century. The four corner pilasters were erected, in the same way we can see today, in 1378 and above them there was just a wooden roof replaced, during the Renaissance, by a marble vault supported by arches with niches at the corners and a lintel depicting a classic series of griffins .
Inside the fourteenth-century niches marble statues were placed and today it is possible to admire those that remain representing S. Peter, S. James, S. John the Evangelist and S. Thomas.
The wrought iron railing, located at the sides of the chapel, dates back to the fourteenth century and seems to be the old railing of the first chapel of the Government of the” Nine” in City Hall.
To the left of the altar there is a tabernacle in stone depicting the Annunciation and Jesus blessing while above the altar, unfortunately just few traces remain of the fresco made by Sodoma between 1537 and 1539 depicting the Madonna with Child and Angels and God.

This Chapel is still protagonist of moments particularly felt by people from Siena, especially for the so-called “Mass of the jockey” that is celebrated in the early morning of every July 2nd and August 16th (the days of the most famous horse race in the world i.e. the Palio) before the last trial also called the “provaccia”.

From the Book: “Tutta Siena Contrada per Contrada” by Piero Torriti.

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Hello everybody from Hotel Borgo Grondaie !! Our virtual journey into the history of the beautiful Siena continues with the Torre of Mangia.
The Torre of Mangia is and was a symbol, a sign that the travelers could see from afar, as a kind of flag for a city proud to show off its power. As mentioned in the previous post about the Public Palace, the construction of the tower began in 1325 and ended in 1348. It was built as a reference of power residing in the Palace and a symbol of the city. The tower of the Palace of government soared well above the other towers built to guard homes of the noble families of Siena. Unfortunately, after the fall of the Republic of Siena in 1555, the Spanish-Florentine pulled all those smaller towers down around the Public Palace leaving the Torre del Mangia as the unique protagonist.

The top of the tower, 87 meters high until the last merlons and 102 to the tip of the lightning rod, offers a magnificent view over the whole city and the surrounding hills.

The Tower is all made of fired brick up the battlement made of white travertine.
The Torre del Mangia owes its name to a certain Giovanni di Duccio, who, in charge of tolling the hours on the Tower since 1347, was nicknamed Mangiaguadagni or Mangia because of its willingness to spend money (“mangia” from the Italian verb “mangiare “= to eat and the substantive “guadagni”= earnings). When in 1360, a watch was placed in the tower, hours were tolled by a woody robot later replaced by a new one made of stone which was nicknamed “The Mangia” in memory of Giovanni Di Duccio. In 1780 the hours were marked by a simple hammer while the remains of the automaton are still preserved in the Cortile del Podestà (Public Building).

The first bell of the tower, built on 1348, was replaced by another in 1634, but it was imperfect and in 1666 a third bell was built called “Sunto” dedicated to Our Lady Maria Assunta (Assumed into heaven).

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Hotel Siena Borgo Grondaie continues the study of the history of Sienatalking about Palazzo Pubblico, whose development is closely linked to that of the Campo Square(Piazza del Campo).
The space of the square was used for fairs and markets until 1270 with the “Government of Twenty-Four Delegates”, but dropped this; the next “Government of the Nine” (1287-1355) began to think of a neutral location for the city government because until then the Council met inside churches or palaces of noble families. With the construction of the new building, the palace became the heart of any business and the big space that the building removed from the valley became the most important public place for all most significant events.
The original core of the building, consisting of a simple stone façade on one floor and with four breaches, was completed in 1284 and already included the Customs (oil and salt) and the Mint.
In 1297 it began the construction of the real central part of the building not so much different from what it is today and that is the ground floor in stone with four lancet openings, the first, the second and the last floor made of bricks with mullioned windows. The Guelph battlement is composed by nine merlons in memory of the glorious “Government of the Nine”. In this period the City issued a lot of laws (that are considered the earliest city plan of our time) in order to respect and standardize esthetic rules for anyone who intended to build a new building.
The main building dates back to 1305 and the extension of the same with the addition of two wings was completed in 1310 (during which the Government of Nine settled there), although the second floor of both wings was built in 1680 in the middle of the baroque era.
It ‘duty to mention an extension of the building carried on the right wing in 1325; thanks to this extension it was possible to use basements as prisons and provide a larger room for the Grand Council, later, in 1560, this room was transformed into a theater which still exists (Rinnovati Theater) after repeated repairs because of damage caused by numerous fires and earthquakes. The restructuring in 1325 allowed to give space to the storehouse for the salt (a very important substance at that time because the only one for food preservation and whose trade was of vital importance to the economy ofSiena). Today, these rooms are used for temporary art exhibitions.
Also in 1325 Siena began the construction of the Torre Del Mangia…. but that’s another story.

See you next time!

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HotelSienaBorgo Grondaie is glad to share with you a little history of our beautifulSiena. Through a series of posts we will discover the origins of the most important places of the city. Let’s start with the heart ofSiena, Piazza del Campo (Campo Square).

Conceived as a center of civic and collective life of the medieval city, Piazza del Campo still has a configuration like that one of the fourteenth century. It ‘a closed urban structure that communicates with the outside through a series of cleverly masked gates and arches and ends with the magnificent background of the Palazzo Pubblico  and Torre del Mangia.
The skyline and the structure of the Piazza del Campo are not born by chance, but during the years of its construction, the government of Siena has gradually enacted laws in order to standardize the architectural style and align the profile of the perimeter and space, an example is the demolition of  the church dedicated to Saints Peter and Paul (located between the existing  St. Peter and St. Paul alleys) because too protruding from the perimeter that the surrounding buildings were defining. The area that would become the square of today, was originally a reclaimed land to allow rain water running off and while the central part of the city was higher in the Castelvecchio area, the future”Campo” was an area for the markets close to the main roads.
The first document which mentions the placement of the Campo Square dates back to 1169; the Square is cited as “Campus Sancti Pauli” and refers to the entire valley, which also includes the current Piazza del Mercato. The news of the subdivision there was in 1193, when the Square is called “Campus Fori” (acting as livestock, poultry and wheat market) and there was the construction of a dividing wall perhaps placed as a barrier because of the soil erosion. In this way the “Campo” acquires the appearance of a half shell while around the wall and on it the government starts the construction of a nucleus of buildings containing the Customs offices ( for oil and salt) and the so-called Bolgano i.e. the place for the minting of coins.

The floor was much later, in fact, the construction started in 1327 and ended in 1349. Even today the centre of the square is paved with handmade bricks laid edge on.The floor is divided into nine strips of travertine in memory of the “Government of the Nine” (1285-1355). The current travertine balusters date back to 1800.

The development of Piazza del Campo is closely linked to the construction of the City Hall (Palazzo Pubblico) ……. but we’ll talk about next time!

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