Sunday, June 29, 2014

Postcards from Siena: Duomo di Siena and Il Campo

Siena's Duomo is one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals I will see yet.  It was a beautiful spring day to be filled with nothing but getting lost in the labyrinth of cobblestone streets of Siena.

Duomo di Siena
Duomo di Siena is the biggest, grandest building in central Siena, built in the 11th century.  The exterior looks mighty impressive, but it is as beautiful, if not more, on the inside.  Masterpieces of Michelangelo, Donatello, Bernini and Pisano can be found in the same place it has been for many centuries.

Inside the church lies a quiet beauty.  It is quite dark inside which I suppose is typical of Gothic churches, with light streaming in through stained glass windows.
Stripes and dimly lit interiors typical of Gothic churches
Popes looking down on you and watching.
Dramatic arches and the massive dome from inside
What was particularly astonishing was the number of art made by the Italian masters housed in the Duomo di Siena.  Sometimes, depictions of spiritual art look out of place in a museum.  I actually love it when these works are left in the same exact place they were created for - in the house of worship.  By doing so, their context is preserved. 

L: Saint Paul by Michelangelo.  R: St. John the Baptist by Donatello
Angels dangling on the dome above Donatello's St. John the Baptist
Nicola Pisano's sculptures on this huge marble pulpit towards the front of the Duomo
The beauty of this massive pulpit was awe-inspiring for me.
But the most marvelously unique thing about the Duomo di Siena is the Piccolomini Library.  It's a small room covered floor-to-ceiling in frescoes in the most vivid hues.  It was so arresting that I literally had to take a moment and stand in the far corner of the room to gaze in awe.  I have never seen anything like it.  The frescoes were done by Pinturichhio in the early 1500's and was dedicated to Pope Pius II and was used as a library. (A fresco is applying paint to wet plaster, similar to how Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican). It depicts events in the life of Pope Pius II.  Also, old choir books written by hand are also encased in glass and wrapped along the walls of the Library.       
Left: one of the frescoes on one of the wall panels.  Right:  A page of a psalter - it's beautiful!
Detail of the library ceiling
Vibrant colors, swirls, patterns and gold

Il Campo
Il Campo competes with Il Duomo for the most prominent skyline views in Siena.  Back in the medieval times, prominent families competed with each other by building high towers.  They signify power and wealth.  The old town radiates from this piazza and around it are cafes and bars with outdoor seating perfect for a break or people-watching.  It is supposedly one of the most beautiful town squares in Tuscany. In the summertime, they hold horse races in the main piazza, which they call "Il Palio".  

1 comment:

  1. WOW!! The place is looking great. I was never been there and really want to go there. You shared extremely beautiful photo here. Thank you!
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