Ever since I saw the swallow-tail pinnacles on the walls surrounding Arsenale in Venezia, they fascinated me. Since history wasn’t my favourite at school, I had to catch up with a lot of matter before, during and after my travels. It was then when I learned about the eventful time in Italian history when guelphs (supporters of the church) and ghibellines (supporters of the emperors) – the disputes that went for many decades until eventually church took over and most of the cities and towns in central Italy had to face their own dark ages. Siena was among the first ghibelline towns but 1277 the ghibellines (nobles) were thrown out of town and the council of the nine was formed. That’s why Palazzo Pubblico has rectangular, guelph, pinnacles. But there four ghibelline pinnacles have remained, on Palazzo Chigi-Saracini. I would never have found these because they are well hidden and only visible from a tiny side lane. Again thanks, Letizia! One day when we walked through town, she asked me if I want to see the only remaining pinnacles and led me through this tiny lane next to the palazzo. We walked a bit and then she told me to turn around. There they were, indeed very much hidden!
Since I can’t find street names, I have marked the point where to see the pinnacles on Google Maps.
© Ingrid D., December 2010 (So please do not copy my text or photos without my permission.)
Scattered around Siena are several statues raised on a column of a female wolf suckling two babies, an image considered the emblem of the city. It stems from a legend claiming that Siena was founded by Senius, son of Remus, the twin brother of Romulus, who in turn founded Rome. Remus and Romulus are the twin babies who were raised by a she-wolf, the same ones in Rome’s legend. Closer to the truth, however, is the account that Siena was founded by and named after the Etruscan Saina tribe who settled in this area after 900 BC. The Romans then changed the city’s name to Saena Julia.
- Historical Travel
What is town? In terms of definition town is densely populated area of considerable size. Should be place with abundant jobs, resonable living costs and plenty of fun things to do. So much about the definitions.
Town is made of its streets, houses, shops, restaurants, bars, parks, theatres but above all, of its inhabitants.
Siena has all of it and many more, Siena has the atmosphere, the ambience, it has heart and soul. I have seen alot of different towns in different countries and most of them were nice places but still, not much of them have touch my soul. What I saw here, and its not the phrase only, Siena is made to measure for its people who proudly and wisely maintaining tradition and monumets as well as preserving the memory of its past.
Before leaving Siena one should stand in front of Porta Camollia and read again what is written there: "Cor Magis Tibi Sena Pandit" - Siena opens her heart out to you much wider than this door - so true and so well said, I really felt it.
This unusual sculpture called "Donna alla finestra" (Woman at the window) can be seen in Via del Comune, which is part of Nobile Contrada del Bruco. The sculpture from 1995 is work of Sienese artist Pierluigi Olla.
Each of 17 contrade is named after an animal or symbol and each one has a long history. Bruco is caterpillar.
Nobile Contrada del Bruco has always been associated with the silk trade and on the sculpture can be seen a rose hanging by a thread on which there is a crowned caterpillar, the symbol of the Contrada del Bruco.
One of the most influential families in Siena in Mediaeval times, the Piccolomini have certainly left their mark on the city. They made their fortune through commerce with nearby city-states and countries, and consequently, were able to acquire property and influence. Their strong support of the Guelph cause, i.e. supporters of the Pope, led them to be expelled from Siena for a period during the struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines. The family produced two Popes, Pius II and Pius III, who made the largest cultural and architectural contribution to Siena. Among the family's legacy in Siena are the library within the Cathedral of Siena, a number of Palazzi, and le Logge del Papa, all of which bear the family name or Coat of Arms. Curiously, the family's Coat of Arms is distinguishable by the five crescents shown in the attached photos. It might have been conceived in the Middle Ages through trade with the Arabs...
Sienese people love their town and very proud of it, 99,99% of locals will tell you it's the most beautiful among all Italian cities. You should never tell in Siena that Florence is more beautiful, in case it is your opinion you better keep it for yourself or wont be welcomed in the town. Siena is, as Italians telling it, "alla misura dell'uomo" - made to the measure of man.
There excist something in the town, however, what Sienese hate alot although most of them will never admit it to a stranger, they hate merlons which could be seen on the top of many buildings. In its medieval times Siena was a Ghibelline stronghold, supporting the Holy Roman Empire and all merlons used to be different, the upper part ending with a swallow-talied form. Florence was Guelph town, supporting the pope and the merlons have rectangular shape. When Cosimo I de Medici have defeated Siena, all merlons in the town were transformed into Guelph rectangular shape.
Guelph supporters tended to come wealthy mercantile families, whereas Ghibellines were predominantly those whose wealth was based on agricultural estates. Bigger towns, such as Florence, Genoa, Bologna, Mantova or Brescia were Guelph part, while smaller towns such as Siena, Pisa, Modena, Cremona or Arezzo supported Ghibellines.
The winner of August Palio in 2005 was Contrada di Torre and that victory occured after long period of "dryness". No need to describe the rapture of contradioli which could be noticed on each face in Via Salicotto. I was there in the early afternoon when guys started with the preparations for evening party and got invitation to join them.
At the same time Contrada's ladies, all dressed in black, gathered for the procession throughout the city visiting all Contradas and bantering at the loosers. Part of them got small trumpets for making noice while other in the procession carrying all sizes of baby-soothers. They told me it's a part of the tradition and must be held.
I spent hour of time at the evening party with the contradioli, enjoying in local food and wine. It was loudly and gaily but at the same time very decently.
On the pictures attached to this review there are five locations in the city centre of Siena and each and every single one of them is a must when visiting the town.
Dear Mr. Mayor, Siena, as a town, isn't private property, it doesn't belong either to Italy only, Siena is patrimony of the world!
Many tourists visiting Siena because of its exceptional beauty, do they must to fight against the cars when stolling around? Or maybe Sienese people don't like if tourists take the photos and therefore covering sights with the cars!
It is out of question that such an passage-way, which obviously wasn't constructed "only yesterday", must be protected by the local tourist association. Is it use as an free and well protected parking place for a local bikers with or without permission by the local authorities? Or, (what seems to be more likely), even the local tourist board have no idea of such an unappropriate abusing.
Hope this picture might help to open some sleeping eyes who are paid for preserving the historical structure of Siena.
San Giuseppe was built in 1521, ordered by Fraternita dei Falegnami (brotherhood of joiners) but in 1786 it become the property of Contrada dell'Onda. It has brickwork facade while the interior in a plan of Greek cross, surmounted by an octagonal dome with a lantern. The crypt is an suggestive 16th century hall which contains the contrada's museum.
Fontana Onda (wave), in via di Fontanella, work of the architect Alfonso Buoninsegni was inaugurated in 1972. It is placed on the sight where used to stand the old Fonte di Fontanella, which is no longer accesible to the public. Fontana Onda is landmark of Contrada Onda.
Fontana isnt a decorative element only, it has much more important role in the life of its parishioners. According to the tradition each new born contradiolo must be baptised with the water of the contrada's fountain and it is happening once a year on a Contrada's patron saint day. It is a kind of initiation, after being baptised a new born baby is receiving a scarf with the contrada's colours and officialy entering into the contrada.
The seat of this Contrada is in Via del Comune 44, which belongs to Terzo di Camollia. As all other Contradas it has its own church, built on the contributions by its members. The oratory dates back to 1680 ands is dedicated to Santissimo Dio. The patron saint of contrada is Visitation of Mary the Virgin.
Each contrada's church has a special function on a day of Palio. After lunch time, around 2am, they bring the horse inside of the church and is being blessed by the local priest.
The seat of Contrada della Torre is situated in Via Salicotto 103, which belongs to the Terzzo di San Martino. Torre is winner of Palio in 2005 and some pictures, you can see here, are taken during the victory celebrations. By the way, it was long time waited victory and the members were trully exaltated.
Oratorio di San Giacomo, in Via di Salicotto, is official church and the seat of Contrada della Torre. Patron saint of contrada is St. John the Apostle and St. Anne.
I didn't see a lot of nudity in Italy but I assume that it is okay since I saw this flag shorts with a "male organ" picture. This "short flag" was placed in front of the store as if it's the flag of the store...
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
This wasn't siesta time or tired visitors who trying to rest in between two city tourings. It was late afternoon and the whole square filled with the African rhytms. I was lucky to be in Siena in a day when musicians from Senegal performed their extraordinary music. The event lasted the whole day till late hours in the night. This people around enjoyed in good African music, same as me, but the main event was yet to come later.
Apart from Siena’s regular fountains which date back to the early days of the town, each contrada has its own fountain. Each of these has its artistically made icon or symbol of the contrada. The fountains play a major role in the life of a contradaiolo, especially when he or she is born. Because each year at the contrada's patron saint day, each baby which was born during the year is being baptised with the water of the contrada’s fountain. It is then when it receives a scarf with the contrada's colours, in a way the official entry into the contrada. A very cute custom! I even found a video on youtube, which I have linked in the website section.
The fountains in my photos are of Panthera (panther), Selva (forest, the tree) and Torre (the elephant). Especially Pathera’s fountain was nice, they also have a small band with Panthera’s colours red and blue and a small panther embedded on the ground (last photo).