Italy, Siena – A Renaissance Town
Siena is situated in central Tuscany, the cradle of Reneissance. Its people are often considered a nation within a nation.
The city of Siena is situated on the hills south of Florence. Both cities often competed for wealth and fame. Siena started to flourish in the 12th century and peaked in the 13th and 14th centuries. Its art scene was equal to the one in Florence.
We recommend you to start off the tour in the city at its largest of landmarks – the Assumption of the Virgin Mary cathedral (Santa Maria Assunta), a three-aisle church completed in the mid-13th century. It is considered one of the most important examples of Gothic-style in Italy. No wodner then that this sight is protected by UNESCO. Giovanni Pisano was responsible for its facade and many statues adorning it. The exterior of the church consists of dark and light marble creating an interesting contrast on the church itself as well as to the surrounding buildings made of red brick.
Inside, there are artistic collections which surpas many prestigious museums. Here you may see the works of Giovanni and Nicola Pisano, Donatello, Bernini, Vecchietto etc. Their works adorn walls, ceilings, floors, chaples, crypt or library. Also, notice beautiful stained glass windows.
Once we are done at the cathedral, we move to Piazza del Campo which makes the heart of Siena's Old Town. The square is lined with palaces and Palazzo Pubblico (town hall). At the upper side of the sloping square is the Fonte Gaia, a 15th century fountain. Its original marble reliefs are situated in the Museo Civico.
The Siena town hall is easily recognizable. It was built in the Gothic style between the 13th and 14th centuries. The facade is made of travertine and bricks. The IHS letters, Christ's monogram, is situated on the battlements. On the first floor, there is the coat of arms of the Medici, the Grand Dukes of Tuscany who ruled Siena in the 16th century.
The interior of the town hall is in great condition, this especially applies to frescoes giving a unique opportunity to have a glimpse of the life of Sienese burghers in the 14th and 15th centuries. Sala della Pace features frescoes made by Ambrogio Lorenzetti called the Good and Bad government. The allegory of a good government depicts Justice personified as a women gesturing at scales held by Wisdom. At Justice's feet there is Virtue. The main character of the frescoe is the Judge surrouded by other personifications of a good government.
Sala del Mappamondo features Maesta, a massive frescoe by Simone Martini 7,6m in length with 9,7 meters in width. A chapel neighbors Sala del Mappamondo. Museo Civico, which we mention above, is situated on the upper floor. It displays Renaissance and Baroque silversmithery, drawings, paintings, and other documents related to city's history.
GPS: 43°19'12.5"N 11°19'36.1"E
Text: Maxim Kucer
Photo: Wikipedia.org: Oke, Jose Luiz Bernardes Ribiero, JoJan, MarkusMark, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Livioandronico2013
The Basilica of San Lorenzo in Florence is one of the most remarkable works of Western architecture. It also includes the New Baptism, the Old Communion, the Princely Chapel and the Medici Library. In addition to their architectural importance, these buildings also contain outstanding artistic treasures.
Ravenna is one of the most historic cities in Italy. Between the years 402 and 476 it was the capital of the Western Roman Empire. Today, it is home to almost 160 thousand people. Every year a summer opera and classical music festival takes place here.
Last time we mentioned that Ravenna is the city of mosaics. Nowhere else in the world are there so many mosaics except for in Istanbul. Also, we mentioned that music festivals take place here.
Arezzo is located mere 80 kilometers south of Florence. Yet this one is a destination often overlooked by tourists.
All of you must have heard about Francis of Assisi. The monk famous for his austere lifestyle founded the Minor Order known as the Franciscans which follows his strict rule of life in community and poverty. The saint's tomb is situated in this very town, the town of Assisi.
The romantic town of Montepulciano has saved its medieval looks, great pleasure for anyone who loves history. However, it is not known for history only for it is great producer of pork, cheese, honey, and mostly wine. Nobile di Montepulciano Wine is considered the best what Italy offers.
Today, we take you to one of the oldest towns in Italy. Its history dates back to the mysterious Etruscan civilization. Later it would became a Roman colony and it would get under Florintian rule, as many other towns in Tuscany. Piazza della Republica is the heart of the town with its opulent Palazzo del Popolo and Palazzo Comunale.
Tuscany is magical land and is home to many amazing cities worth visiting.
When you visit Italy, you have to taste some of the local delicious cuisine. But as food art also is an integral part of the soul of this country. Italians live with music, and the visit to the Apennine Peninsula can‘t not go without a seeing musical performance. And what is more than the world-famous La Scala opera house?
A hundred kilometers north of Rome lies the Umbrian town of Orvieto. It sits high above the valley of the Paglia River. The town was founded by the ancient Etruscans. It later became a significant fortress, especially due to its strategic location. Today it consists of two parts. The old town lies at higher altitude, the newer part lies in the valley and it is the place which you see first when you get off the train or park your car. To get to the historic center, you can use the funicular. Up there you will find most of the tourist attractions.
You will recognize Volterra right away because it looks over the surrounding hills. In good weather, you can even see the distant island of Corsica.
We return to Florence, Italy, to see other interesting places.
Last week we introduced you the Renaissance town of Siena and mentioned Florence was its great competitor. To make a better idea of Florence (or Firenze if you will), we together hit its streets today.
In the first part on Pisa, we saw three main sights situated one next to another. This time we are not going far either.
In the antiquity, Pisa was an important Roman port. However, the Arno River has silted up since. Now, there is a 10 kilometer gap between the city and the sea. It is very likely that you know Pisa as the home of the leaning tower. However, it is possible that you don't know that Campo Santo cemetary or local cathedral are other major sights around here.
Cinque Terre is national park and listed in UNESCO World Heritage Sites. You will fall in love with this Italian region. There are not monumental landmarks of antiquity or Middle-Ages as you may see in Rome, Bologna or Pisa. Yet still local atmosphere is splendid. Cinque Terre is an area consisting of five beautiful towns (Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza, and Monterosso al Mare). Not long ago (in the 1960s), tourists almost didn't know about them. Even if they did, it would be very difficult to reach them, i.e. only by boat. Today, you may travel there by car but don't expect your ride to be an easy one.
Today we take another look at the beautiful city of Bologna.
Tourists often consider Bologna to be the most attractive city in Italia. One of the reasons for that is local great food which reached international fame. But before we get to it, let's take a look around.
We were about to stay five days in Rome. So we intended to make some trips around Rome. We received some advice at the visitor's center which led us to visit the town of Cerveteri. The town is situated in the Lazio region about 40 kilometers from Rome. It takes us about an hour by train to reach Marina di Cerveteri station (the train departs several times every day from Roma Termini station). Then you need to reach a bus stop (100 from the train station). A free of charge minibus departs from here to the historic center of Cerveteri (to Piazza Aldo Moro). The ride takes about 20 minutes.
The last day in Rome was the perfect day for a trip off the city. We visited two different places. After Villa d‘Este we decided to set off to Frascati. There is Villa Aldobrandini. Frascati is situated 20 kilometers southeast of Rome. A train departs from roma Termini to here regularly. The ride takes half an hour. But bear in mind that the train departs from a pretty remote platform. So don't go to the train station at the last minute.
Being in Rome one should visit Vatican - the smallest country in the world. Millions of tourists visit it every year and sea its museums, the Sistine chapel, or St Peter's basilica. The entire land is surrouned by ramparts. The state of Vatican consists of the Vaticane gardens, St Peter's square, St Peter's basilica, and another significant structures.
We were pondering if winter or early spring are suitable seasons for a stay in Rome. It turned out, it was a great choice. It is off main season, therefore accommodation, and flight tickets are notably cheaper. There are also lesser tourist crowds (yet in Vatican or at the main train station there are still many people there). Moreover, the weather is amazing. It was bit frosty in the morning but as the day goes on, the sun is more powerful. Temparatures then rise up to 18 °C so we wore just sweaters (some even wore T-shirts and shorts).
We decided to leave Rome on Sunday for Tivoli, a town about 40 kilometers away. Formerly, this was a place where Rome's rich went to recreate because they had their summer residence there. Today, tourists are most intrigued to visit the magnificent Renaissance villa – Villa d'Este.
Towns and cities in northern Italy ensure its world fame and attention of many art enthusiast. These towns were built during the 14th and 16th centuries by rich townsmen and fans of antic culture. The word renaissance is derived from Italian word rinascito (rebirth), i.e. renewed admiration of art, literature and values of antic Rome.
Join us in our visit to the heart of Italy and enjoy all its amazing architectonic pieces. Unfort...