June, 2011

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Stay at a former palace, now a monastery, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Siena

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Siena is built on three hills and has preserved an ancient appearance characterized by noble buildings of reddish gold bricks, steep, twisting stone alleys and centuries-old walls.

Stay at a former palace, now a monastery, and immerse yourself in the beauty of Siena, a Gothic-Inspired City for about $70/night including breakfast

An historical palace from the 13th or 14th century, it is well located for touring Tuscany. Nearby Siena is built on three hills and has preserved an ancient appearance characterized by noble buildings of reddish gold bricks, steep, twisting stone alleys and centuries-old walls. Of Etruscan origin, Siena’s importance grew in the Middle Ages. For centuries, it struggled with Florence and after a long siege was conquered by the Florentines and became part of the Duchy until unification with Italy.

An inscription on the Porta di Camollia reads “Siena opens up its heart more than any other place.” Siena’s Golden Age reached its pinnacle in the 13th century when “Nine Good Men” were chosen from the middle class to rule the city. During their reign, many of Siena’s finest architectural achievements came to pass. In 1348, a plague struck, killing three quarters of the city’s inhabitants. Forgotten for years, the city was untouched by the Renaissance movement. This isolation had a hidden benefit; it left Siena with the appearance and aura of a Gothic-inspired city.

Eleven narrow archways lead to the Piazza de Campo. A crescent shaped piazza, the square is surrounded by a maze of medieval streets lined with Gothic palaces. Its most illustrious is the Palazzo Publicco, Siena’s impressive crenellated town hall. The interior of the palace is adorned with frescoes by Duccio, Simone Martini and Lorenzetti as well as paintings of the Sienese school. Mangia Tower, the palace’s huge bell tower is one of Italy’s highest medieval towers. More than 500 steps lead to the top and incredible vistas.

The Piazza del Duomo lies at the heart of the city and is home to the imposing 12th century duomo. A remarkable structure of Gothic-Italian design, it is composed of black and white zebra-like stripes of basalt and travertine, its vaulted interior a showcase of marble pillars and inlaid marble flooring. The ceiling is painted blue and accented with gold stars to resemble the night sky.

For more information, visit: Monasteries of Italy