Tour Locations | From the Golden Age to the Glory of Siena’s Present Traditions
Casa Santa Caterina
Stop here please.
The courtyard right in front of you is relatively recent even if it is designed to look like something built in the 1400s. This is the entrance to the birthplace of St Catherine of Siena, a nun who took care of humble and sick people during her short life. She was born here in 1347. Contrary to what the style of this building would lead us to think, her family were fabric dyers and so they weren't well off. When she was appointed patron saint of Italy, it underwent major renovations and it is a nunnery today.
Feel free to walk through the little oratories but should there be a service going on, please refrain from taking pictures or walking around.
The one on the left, you'll find the Cucina, the Italian word for kitchen, which has wonderful late Renaissance paintings and an original 15th century majolica floor. Whereas on the right there is a little Baroque church, a style which is seldom to be seen in Siena.
When you're ready, please exit the courtyard and turn right to walk first downhill and then continue as the road goes uphill.
By the way, have you realized that there is no river in Siena? Quite strange for a city that prospered in the Middle Ages. Can you believe how challenging it would have been to work as a fabric dyer here without running water?
The district behind the sanctuary of Santa Caterina is known as Fontebranda and there is a huge medieval fountain, still in use.
We are in the heart of the Goose district. Yes, most contrade or districts have an animal name and once a year in that fountain babies will be baptised to become official members of this neighbourhood. This is an open-air secular baptism, it's all related to the horse race, and as you can imagine, it is taken very seriously!!!
While you walk, take the chance to observe the buildings down these streets, they are some of the best-preserved ... pure immersion into the Middle Ages.