If the beautiful town of Siena in Tuscany is a crown, its Cathedral, la Cattedrale, is one of the brightest gems. Could you believe that it is… An unfinished business?!
Siena is the “other” city: Siena fought against Florence bitterly and restlessly, but we all know how it ended.
Nevertheless, Siena fought against Florence on several occasions in a period that spans from the Middle Age to the Renaissance, from the Guelphs and Ghibellines wars, with the Siena victory of the Montaperti Battle in 1260, to the conquest of Siena by Cosimo I de’ Medici in 1555, in the Italian Wars.
Siena was originally an Etruscan settlement, then a Roman city and, between 1115 and 1555, an independent republic.
And its exceptional cultural heritage from the Middle Age and early Renaissance is still the treasure of Siena: the Cathedral is one of the best samples, even if something went terribly wrong at some stage…
In the very same location of the Cathedral there already was a church in the 9th Century AD. That church, in 1058, held the election of the Pope Nicholas II.
In 1196 the Opera di Santa Maria started the construction of the new Cathedral from the previously existing church. But the “new” Siena Cathedral has never been finished.
Everything went almost in the right way until 1264, with the works for the vaults and the transept.
In 1339 a huge project started: a new nave and two aisles would have more than doubled the volume of the Cathedral. A project that has never been accomplished, because of the Black Death and design issues as well.
Even if “unfinished” the Siena Cathedral enshrines beautiful artworks, such as the mosaics, the Cardinal Riccardo Petroni mausoleum by Tino di Camaino, one of the most important Sienese sculptors, or the Saint Paul statue by Michelangelo Buonarroti.
The surroundings of Siena are beautiful as well, but will talk about them in another post… 😉