Siena Tourist Attractions
Siena, chief town of its province, lies in the uplands of Tuscany, between the Colline Metallífere and the Chianti hills.
Siena was a place of no consequence in Roman times, when it was known as Saena Julia. After the death of Countess Matilda of Tuscia in 1115 Siena - like Pisa, Lucca, Florence and other cities - gained its independence. The government of the town remained in the hands of the local Ghibelline nobility, and this brought it into conflict with the Guelf city of Florence, its great rival in power and wealth, with which it was constantly at odds. After the fall of the Hohenstaufen Emperors, in 1270, Charles of Anjou won control of the town and made it a member of the Guelf League of Tuscan towns. In 1348 Siena was stricken by an outbreak of plague. A period of domestic troubles culminated in the establishment in 1487 of personal rule by Pandolfo Petrucci (known as il Magnífico, the Magnificent), whose strict but beneficient régime is praised by Machiavelli. In 1555 Siena was taken by the Spaniards, who ceded it in 1559 to Duke Cosimo I of Tuscany.
The great period of Sienese art was in the 13th and 14th centuries. The cathedral and numerous palaces in the town are outstanding monuments of Gothic architecture. The good brick-earth found in the surrounding area led to the extensive use of brick in building. The Sienese painters of the 13th and 14th century (Duccio, Simone Martini, the brothers Ambrogio, and Pietro Lorenzetti), with their delicate and graceful style, surpassed even the artists of Florence. Iácopo della Quercia (1374-1438) was one of the founders of Renaissance sculpture, whose influence was still felt by Michelángelo.