• LOCATION 17 | From the Golden Age to the Glory of Siena’s Present Traditions

    Facciata del Duomo, Santa Maria della Scala & Duomo tickets

    Please stop here and look at the facade of the duomo. It's one of the most beautiful churches across Italy, as impressive as the interior.

    Locals mock visitors when they say, it is a new facade rearranged between the 12 and the 1300s: the project was supervised by Giovanni Pisano, who while inspired by the life of the Virgin Mary beautifully blended the Gothic style from Northern Europe with the symmetrical order of the Ancient Roman architecture.

    Turn so the Duomo is behind you now. In front of you and slightly to the left is the front of the former general hospital in Siena known as Santa Maria della Scala, dedicated to the Virgin Mary and located across the steps of the Duomo, hence the name scala meaning staircase in Italian.

    Probably established as a pilgrim shelter in 1090 under the control of the local bishop, it was expanded through the centuries thanks to the donations of local merchants and bankers.

    It is currently operating as a museum and ticket office to various sites. You can purchase tickets to enter the duomo through the door on the left part of the façade after the tour if you wish.

    Please do not forget that admission is not allowed on Sunday and holiday mornings because of services unless you are visiting Siena between late August and late October.

    I strongly recommend visiting the interior which feels like leafing through an Italian art history book: at least 4 different styles are uniquely blended here.

    There are some ruins at the back right of the church. Just try to imagine that the last expansion project for this Cathedral was undertaken before the plague of 1348. When locals realized the dream of having a larger Duomo than the one of the neighbouring and rival Florence could not be fulfilled, they started redecorating the marble floor with religious and secular subjects. It includes more than 50 patterns and it was completed in almost two centuries.

    So don't waste time in case you would like to visit! If there is a line, it usually goes fast.

    As the interior can be overwhelming, just focus on the main highlights: the pulpit by Nicola Pisano, the Votive Chapel designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, the Piccolomini altar with some sculptures by Michelangelo and the Piccolomini Library with fantastic Renaissance frescoes. And of course the marble floor.

    This is where I'll be leaving you.

    I hope you have enjoyed your walk. Along the way, we've seen some amazing architecture and uncovered some of the stories behind this fascinating and unique city. Most importantly, I hope you were entertained and are enjoying your time in the city I call home.

    My name is Elisabetta Marchi. If you'd like to know a bit more about me or to book a tour with me while you're in Tuscany, just tap on my photo. You could also visit my website, tuscanytrotter.com. Other walks are available on VoiceMap too!

    I wish you all the best in your travels. Please consider leaving a rating and a review.


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From the Golden Age to the Glory of Siena’s Present Traditions