If you’ve only got enough time to do one thing in the classic Tuscan city of Siena make it the Duomo. This may seem obvious – it’s a major city in Italy, of course the cathedral at the top of the hill is going to be on your list. But, this complex is filled with some unique features from its odd black stripes, to its beautiful floor frescoes, and even up to the wonderfully painted ceilings.
If you take the train into the city you’ll have quite a hill to climb. Fortunately, the views from the top are worth the effort.
As you wind your way through the narrow old streets towards your goal you’ll get the feeling that this is a very old city.
You can’t miss the Duomo in Siena. It’s on top of the highest point in the city and stands out against the landscape with its striking black stripes. There are a few more stairs for you to climb, but you’re almost there.
The front of the cathedral and the start of your tour through beauty and history.
The standard tour of the thirteenth century building starts off in the spacious cathedral. Here you’ll be able to admire the black striped column and walls as they ascend to the top of the ceiling. The black and white go hand in hand with the colors of the coat of arms of the city itself.
If the stripes didn’t stand out from the exterior they really hit your eyes once you get inside. The black bands immediately draw your eyes up the columns towards the ceiling.
Once you’re done looking up you’ll start to notice that there are a number of roped off sections of floor. Take a look at each and you’ll see some beautiful works of art.
The bird at the center is just one of the abundance of animals that you’ll find throughout the building.
The carvings and art in the cathedral are home to a lot of animals. They’re in almost every detail of the interior.
The art and sculptures around the church display a number of biblical themes.
Even the little details, like this post, are decorated and beautiful.
After you’re done taking in the impressive interior of the main cathedral make sure to seek out the adjoining library. This isn’t a typical library with books, but instead a series of powerful and colorful frescoes depicting the story of Pope Pius II.
The mirrors around the library room can be used so you can see every little detail in the walls and ceiling. Here it looks like a portal to another world.
Here you can see some of the frescoes lined up along the wall. In the mirror you’ll notice the ceiling across is very colorful and alive.
If you bought the all-inclusive pass (you should, it’s only 12 euros) you’ll move your tour along across the plaza to the museum. The museum isn’t very large, but there are some very impressive statues and stained glass to be found. Take your time and relax here. The atmosphere is wonderful.
The low lighting really made the stained glass at the end of the hallway stand out. All eyes are immediately drawn to the feature when you enter the building. It’s very striking.
After you’re done in the museum head down the steps towards the crypts and baptistry. About half way down you’ll find your entrance to the former – The Crypts.
The crypts are below the cathedral, but situated above the baptistry. Here the brick itself is covered in paintings taken from biblical stories. The area under the cathedral is calm and striking.
The crypts are below our feet. You can see that the subterranean part of the cathedral is easily a few floors below.
Once you’re back out in the daylight head down the stairs once more to arrive at the fourth and final stop on your Duomo day trip – The Baptistry. Unlike the other baptistries in Pisa and Florence this one is part of the main cathedral building. The room is wonderfully adorned from top to bottom with some pews to sit, relax, contemplate, or pray. Like the library room above, the ceiling is wonderfully decorated in the baptistry. Mirrors are provided so you can check out every angle of the room (or take fun pictures).
We found some more mirrors in the baptistry. The mirror is showing the art in the center of the room. The benches all face the focal point and lead your eyes upwards to an ornate dome.
Though there are only four stops on the Duomo tour, no day trip in Italy would be complete without adding a fifth stop – Gelato. There are a number of shops around the city and no shortage around the cathedral itself. Go seek one out and have a treat.
This is the actual gelato from the shop across the street from the Duomo. We named the one in front Bruno. Can you think of a name for the other?