Travel to Italy: Siena
A very inadequate glimpse of this city, but at least one that hints at the city's early wealth--and its desire to display it.
The Porta Camollia, the north gate to the historic city.
The Piazza Salimbeni, framed by the Tantucci, Salimbeni, and Spannocchi palazzi. The statue is of Sallustio Bandini, founder of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena, an important bank.
Nearby, the St. Christopher church seems austere.
The Palazzo Publico, built in the first half of the 14th century. The monogram between and slightly below the empty bell towers reads IHS, Iesus Hominum Salvator. Lippo Memmi's famous Torre del Mangia was built just before the arrival of the Black Death. It has attracted extravagant praise. "I stood in the piazza and saw the Tower of the Mangia leap like a rocket into the starlit air." That was William Dean Howells, who continued, "When once you have seen the Mangia, all other towers, obelisks, and columns are tame and vulgar and earth-rooted; that seems to quit the ground, to be not a monument but a flight." (Tuscan Cities, 1886, p. 139)
The duomo with its Romanesque bell tower rising over the Gothic facade, or at least the Gothic upper layers of the facade.
The base is Romanesque; the mosaics a 19th century improvement.
Inside and out, the paving is extraordinary.
The nave. Amazingly, this was supposed to be the transept of an even grander church, but the Black Death intervened, and plans were scaled back.
Another angle of this mixed Romanesque and Gothic behemoth, as showy as a women in an elaborate gown, striped taffeta perhaps, with frilly jewels. This was not a church for men of humility.
The carved marble pulpit, by Nicola Pisano, has panels showing the life of Christ, separated by angels and prophets; the lower level has the Virtues separated by trefoiled arches.
Some forty artists shared the work of designing the paving.
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