Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, Tuscany

The Palazzo Pubblico is the center of Siena’s government since 1310. It’s facade reflects Siena’s history together with the she-wolf of Senius and Ascanius, the Medici balls, the IHS of San Bernardino, and the squared crennellations.

Its Torre di Mangiais the second tallest in medieval Italy – a symbol of Sienese pride at a lofty 332 feet as if reaching for the clouds. The tower is the work of Perugian architects Muccio and Francesco di Rinaldo. Needless to say, if you have the heart for it, you can climb the tower’s almost endless steps for an all-encompassing view of Siena’s territory.

At the foot of the tower is the Capella della Piazza with its rounded arches giving a beautiful contrast to the Gothic form of this castle.

The ground floor of the Palazzo Pubblico houses the city offices, while the upper floors serves as the city museum. Admission tickets are required for the museum.

Palazzo Pubblico Attractions

The frescoes take the center stage here.

At the Sala del Risorgimento in photographically precise and color detail are the historical frescoes done by A. G. Cassioli (circa 1886); the meeting of Vittorio Emanuele II with Garibaldi, his coronation, and portraits, epigrams of past patriots, and “allegory of Italian liberty”, adorn the walls of this room.

At the Sala di Balia are more frescoes about the life of Allessandro VII and some vigorous battle scenes rendered by Spinello Aretino (1300). Martino di Bartolomeo’s Sixteen Virtues is in the same room, while the Madonna and Child by Matteo di Giovanni is at the adjoining Anticamera del Concistoro.

Palazzo Pubblico in Siena, Tuscany

Don’t miss the Gobelin tapestries that adorn the walls of the Sala del Concistoro and the ceiling frescoes by Beccafumi.

At the Palazzo Pubblico’s vestibule to the chapel are portraits of ancient heroes from Cicero to Judas Maccabeus by Taddeo di Bartolo together with portraits of classical gods and goddesses. A King-sized St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers, covering an entire wall breaks the furious display of classical works.

In display cases are the prized and oldest treasures of the Siena – a war helmet of the captain of the people, and a fragile golden rose (a gift from Pope Pius II).

The lovely wrought-iron grilles by Jacopo della Quercia that surrounds the Capella del Consiglio – betrays more art treasures within. The capella is the repository of the frescoes by Taddeo di Bartolo, an altarpiece by Il Sodoma, and exceptionally beautiful carved wood seats by Domenico di Nicolo (cerca 1415-28), though not avaiable for viewing all year round.

Adjacent to the chapel is the Sala del Mappamondo with what is left of Lorenzetti’s cosmological frescoe – a diagram of the universe including all the celestial and angelic spheres. Also residing here is the famous fresco of Simone Martini (circa 1330) of Guidoriccio da Fogliano on his way to attack the castle of Montemassi, and the enthroned Virgin (Maesta) (circa 1315).

At the meeting room of the council of the nine, the Sala dei Nove is the “Allegories of Good and Bad Government” by Ambrogio Lorenzetti. Finished in 1338, it is being cleaned and restored. If one looks closely, you will notice that the Allegory of Good Government has fared better than the the Allegory of Bad Government, in fighting off the ravages of time.

In the next room, is a huge Madonna and Child by Guido da Siena done sometime in the mid-1200s.

Before you start wondering how these works of art survived the upheavals that Siena has undergone, it’s time to climb the tower for that once in a lifetime experience.

You may ask, is there no other way to view the Sienese landscape. Of course, there is another way but less exhilarating.

This is through the stairway by the Sala del Risorgimento leading to the Palazzo Pubblico loggia. The sight might not be as spectacular as from the Torre di Mangia but equally beautiful.