The character of Siena

Imagine a noble fairytale, a chivalrous poem, a miniature gothic city: this is Siena. In the background of a medieval Tuscany, without concrete or asphalt, just hot stone. Located in a sublime environment, but lacking natural resources, far from the ocean and always at odds with its eternal powerful rival – Florence.

The rivalry between Siena and Florence was so strong that throughout history, it often lead to both military and non-military wars. Florence, was symbolised by “David”, and Lorenzo “the Magnificent” – measure, order and symmetry. Florence was a city in which the simplest things are strong expressions of the rationality and intelligence of the Renaissance. On the contrary, Siena seems to have been representative of feminism. Piazza del Campo, Maesta’ di Duccio, ornaments and gold are all expressions of grace and femininity. This is Siena.

In fact, the Renaissance never managed to take off in Siena as it did in other cities. A hint of its influence is just barely noticeable in a few buildings and paintings. Walking through Siena brings on an emotional state and stupor and a great sense of nostalgia. Could it be from the vision of it; like a siren sitting sweetly on a golden hill in the middle of the open Tuscan landscape? Or could it be from the antique odour of its streets, winding and narrow, or from the sensual and mystical tone of its gothic frescoes that adorn every building and church? Or maybe it is because it is far away and its role as middleman between the north and south of Italy is irretrievable. All of this does not mean that Siena is a dead city. In fact, the Sienese are jovial and proud. Its university is avant-garde and its commercial and business dealings are on the international level. Not to mention the important role that tourism plays in Siena.

The nostalgia derives from the distance that separates us and our century from man and from the medieval culture that built Siena from the ground up. Even though the city of Siena is of Roman origin, its major development occurred in the 13th and 15th centuries. It became one of the most important political and military cities in Tuscany. In addition to this, it was also a centre from which art diffused to the courts of Italy (the other was, naturally, Florence). During these centuries Siena obtained the urban image that continues to fascinate the world today. Buildings in stone or brick, tall and towering that line narrow streets and alleys in a continuous motion which finally open up into the piazzas filled with incredible churches and buildings. Siena, where the sensitivity of medieval man focused on every meticulous detail, for the sake of art.

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