Siena

Today we traveled with the Mount St. Mary’s students to the Tuscan town of Siena.  This hilltop town is about a 75 minute drive south of Florence.  We met at the train station at 8:00 this morning to catch a bus to this beautiful town.

Siena was Florence’s rival from the 13th through the 16th centuries.  The cities were at constant war with one another, and they also competed to have the most beautiful cathedral in their center.  Even today, people living in Siena boast that their cathedral is much more beautiful than Florence’s.     

On the back side of the building pictured above is Siena’s Baptistry.  It is here that most people living in Siena are baptized.  The Baptismal Font pictured below has a famous series of bronze reliefs at its base.   

One of the bronze reliefs that we saw is by Donatello that was created around 1427 – The Feast of King Herod.  It is one of the first uses of perspective in a bronze relief during the Renaissance period.  The relief is only a few inches deep, but yet it looks much deeper.  This piece is one of the most famous in Siena.    

Inside Siena’s cathedral is beautiful. 

To give you an idea of the size of the cathedral, Maria took a picture of Nicholas and Thomas at the base of one of the pillars. 

The ceiling of Siena’s Duomo.

Siena’s town hall.

This is a picture of the main square in Siena.       

The town of Siena is divided into seventeen Contradas (or districts) that are each represented by an animal and a coat of arms (like the unicorn, the panther, the dragon, etc).  The Contradas are marked throughout the town by flags and coats of arms on the side of the buildings.  In a tradition that goes back to the 1200s, the Contradas compete twice each summer in a famous horse race that takes place around the perimeter of the square.  It is a dangerous and brutal competition.  The jockeys ride bareback and there are essentially no rules – the Contrada’s horse (a jockey is not needed to win) that finishes three laps around the square first wins.  The You Tube video below shows the event televised on Italian television.  It is really crazy!   

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5s1mr6-NYaM

Here are some nice pictures from the town of Siena.

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2 Responses to “Siena”

  1. Julie Says:

    Hi!
    Loved your postings and photos!
    What an experience…
    We have to say we would love to eat one of those gorgeous, incredibly enormous waffles! YUM YUM!

    Enjoy!
    Miss you guys…
    Julie, Jenny, Jessie and Joey

  2. Mayberry's Says:

    Hi all. I love your pictures. Glad you all are having a great time.

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