Siena - Old Town
Trip Start May 01, 2012
35Trip End May 31, 2012
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What I did
Our destination is the town of Siena which is past Florence. It is interesting to note that Siena and Florence were rivals as cultural centers around the 13th and 14th centuries. Most people visit Florence but the Siena Cathedral is in fact more authentic than that in|Florence.
We arrived at the hotel and walked to the old town which is located at the top of the hill
After the museum we met our guide who was a lawyer. We asked her why she did tours and she replied, " because this is Italy". The tour was excellent. To begin we saw the Baptistry which was added at a later date in order to support the expanded church. Underneath that was the crypt but no remains other than some high tech metal reinforcement to keep the cathedral supported. We then toured the Cathedral which as I mentioned is considered to be more authentic than the one in Florence because the facade was completed at a much earlier date than the one in Florence.
Of particular interest is that this was the home church of Pope Pious the Second. He did not enter the priesthood until he was 40. He was a common person who became a lawyer, had children but never married and finally decided to enter the priesthood and moved up the ranks finally becoming a Pope. One of the amazing rooms in the cathedral is the Library which he had constructed to contain literary works. Unfortunately, the works never arrived and the room was sealed for many years. Since then it has been reopened and old hymn books are now stored on the Library. The entire cathedral is marble with inlaid floors and many sculptures including 2 by Michelangelo. There is also a large painting by Raphael who features himself in the picture. The church is in use today and services, weddings and funerals are conducted there.
From the Cathedral we went to the Duomo square. The large building was likely some type of administrative building. The large square today is ringed by many restaurants and is a gathering place for the tourists.