Siena is not just about the Palio !

Although a huge amount of attention is given to the Palio scheduled for 16th of August, DSCN1674and all its surrounding preparations  if you rent a Villa in Tuscany you cannot fail to be overwhelmed by the beauty that surrounds your Villa rentals in Tuscany.  When we visited La Colina del Sole our favourite Lucca Villa Rental in Tuscany we made a few trips to Siena and found that among the Duomos that are accessible from  Villas for rent in Tuscany the one in Siena has the most wonderfully preserved art. So if you are enjoying your Holiday villas in Lucca grab your car and visit or just kick off your shoes, pour yourself a glass of wine and enjoy the blog you will feel you were there ! When you buy your entrance ticket for the full works check out the Violinist busker, who produces a lovely sound although his over-tight trousers and overdramatic rendition is a little distracting.  In 2013 the Special attraction is the  “door to heaven” which needs to be booked in advance, either from the website or call 0577 286 300 theDSCN1731 tickets cost €25 per person.

The “Window to Heaven” tour assembles by the ticket office and heads up the spiral staircase of the right tower of the Duomo, past alabaster windows and arrives at the flank of the roof, with small gargoyles placed at the interior of the building they were destined to be seen by very few people,  the gargoyles were in the shape of animals, mythical animals and humansDSCN1694, they carry the water that made its way through channels in the roof into other copper channels that go into a cistern for the use of the local priests or to the water disposal ducts.

This top area of the Duomo has taken 30 years to restore and opened tDSCN1723o the public for the first time in 2013.  The restorers have changed most of the ceiling beams and roof tiles while encouraging the local fauna like scorpions and other beasties to move out. One of the original roof tiles found has a dogs paw print in it, “a medieval paw” with rather long nails! The guide explains that the White and Black stripes in the Duomo are made from relatively local white marble [ not pure white as in Carrara which is only used in the Michael Angelo sculptDSCN1697ed side altar ] and Serpentine marble which is in reality very dark green, the little accents of red marble are true Sienese marble.

The tour takes you past open windows that look down onto huge sculptures of saints and angels that overlook the people below, on the side of the interior walls you can see the original DSCN1701craftsmen’s drawings  centuries old on the walls that served as blueprints for the carving of architectural marble details of the building to be carved, you walk behind balustrades that have the most incredible views down the body of the church and terraces that overlook the whole of Siena, you can stand just below the main stained glass roundel and stand behind the large guardian angels that mount guard outside the front façade of the Duomo, with their huge copper wings outstretched.

The entire floor in the Duomo of Siena is in carved white marble which has been indented and stained Black or has been intagDSCN1739lio’d with slices of Black marble, the guide explained the meaning of the floor carvings. On both sides of the Duomo, there are the 10 Sybille; all women, 3 Middle Eastern, 3 European, 3 Far Eastern and One African; who lived pre-Christ and who predicted His coming and how Christ would die. Then the first part of the main body of the church depicts Oracles and the “Magical” world before Christ’s life, it also depicts the animals that DSCN1677represent the main cities of Italy,  the central area of the Duomo has floors that depict Christ’s Life with the 2 sides floor spaces depicting several scenes from the Gospel, the most sticking is the massacre of the innocent.

At the Duomo there are several kind and informative guards who point out the treasures found here there are Michael Angelo and Donatello statues alongside many other treasures by Pisano [ from Pisa]  and Rosino who  had red hair ! The library has wall paintings that are as fresh today as the day they were originally painted centuries ago alongside illuminated books one of which has a depiction of “wind” who looks as though he had a bad afro day in medieval times.

The Baptistery  has paintings and sculptures by Donatello, Ghiberti, PisaDSCN1707no and many others the main theme of the depictions are a graphic depiction of Heaven and hell The “Opera del Duomo” or museum has yet more sculptures by de la Quercia, Ghiberthi, Donatello, Pisano and Brunelleschi a beautiful stained glass window and the original statues of the saints that stood outside the Duomo, on higher floors there are Icons and sepia drawings one of Jesus and God and the Holy Spirit in the form of fire that is stunning , there are also a great many relics including full skulls so many that is it easy to be “relicked out”  One of the side rooms houses the huge paper sketches with the designs of the marble floor carvings for the Duomo in beautiful detail, these “maps” are huge paper drawings that fill entire walls All in all Siena is awesome !