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Il Duomo – moody cathedral

  • Il Duomo – moody cathedral

    Siena Cathedral faces Santa Maria della Scala. The pinnacled Gothic facade is a riot of green, pink and white marble, like a glorious iced cake. The Duomo began in 1220 as a round-arched Romanesque church but soon acquired a Gothic façade festooned with pinnacles. Bands of black, white and green marble were inlaid with pink stone and topped by Giovanni Pisano’s naturalistic statues. The Cathedral interior is creativity run riot oriental abstraction, Byzantine formality, Gothic flight and Romanesque austerity. A giddy chiaroscuro effect is created by the black-and-white walls reaching up to the starry blue vaults. The inlaid floor is a marvel but often hidden from view. Sienese craftsmen worked on the marble pavimentazione between 1372 and 1562. Giorgio Vasari called these “the most beautiful pavements ever made.”  Nicola Pisano’s octagonal marble pulpit is a Gothic masterpiece but is currently being restored. Built in 1226, it is a dramatic and fluid progression from his solemn pulpit in Pisa Cathedral. Unearthed in 1999, the crypt is an extraordinary discovery, with frescoes attributed to Duccio’s school. Because the frescoes were perfectly concealed for so long, the intensity of the colours shines through in a vivid array of blue, gold and red. Given that the frescoes date from 1280, the `modern’ expressiveness is all the more remarkable. Also below the cathedral, and included in the ticket price, is an immersive 3D video-mapping experience.

    Pass: the Opa Si Pass is valid for three days and includes entry to the Cathedral, Library, Baptistery, Crypt, Gate of Heaven, Museo dell’Opera and Panorama.

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