September 8, 2020
Deep in southern Tuscany sits one of the biggest little hidden gems in all of Italy—the city of Siena. She is often overlooked for her big sister, Florence, but should be included in your itinerary if you have time. I have visited her three times but never like this.
Twice each year, the Duomo of Siena opens her heart and her upper level to the public. It is called La Porta Del Cielo, the Door to Heaven, and it is worth altering your plans to see it. For those of you who have visited the Duomo in previous visits, you will notice fewer people present and the floors of the church are exposed.
It is so much easier to see it when you walk along the floors.
But from Above, in the heavens, it is exquisite.
After 76 winding, narrow stairs, we arrive in the workspace above.
They scratched the drawings right on the wall.
This is what is behind those gorgeous stained-glass windows you see from inside the church.
We can see these directly across the way.
And this incredible art, refined workmanship.
And the ceiling of the Duomo, so close you can almost touch it.
We look up and see the tower before walking outside, yes outside. Let’s go.
We see so much of the city from here.
Saints are here.
The rose window—we can look directly at the rose window. It is unbelievably intricate and unforgettable.
Experiencing the overlapping arches at the same height that they exist is a gift for anyone who appreciates the artistry of this construction.
The photo above is my absolute favorite. Seeing the mosaic work from above really gives a person a feeling of flying above it all.
The mosaics near the pulpit show a bit of wear but are still amazing.
Our time in heaven is nearly over.
We make our way down another narrow set of stairs to the floor of the Duomo once again.
Here we see the vaults from a completely different angle.
In a side chapel we visit Bernini’s Mary Magdalene and simply gasp at the artistry and expression.
The center altar area is framed by the marble posts.
I love the optical illusion in these floor tiles.
We walk alongside the altar area to see the seats for the ordained when visiting during mass.
We wander around admiring every single corner until we reach the entrance to the Libreria Piccolomini.
My friend, known to others as Massi the Driver, and part of Italy Unfiltered, is just as excited as I am to enter this library.
I get dizzy looking up so long at the artistry on the ceiling.
Every inch or centimeter of this room is phenomenal.
I can never get enough.
I L-O-V-E the faux archways and pillars. Each piece is three-dimensional.
The illustrated music and literature books from the Middle Ages are also enticing.
Only about 16 people were allowed inside at a time. We had such a good opportunity to see it all. I hated to leave but there was so much more to experience.
You see, the 20 Euro entrance ticket includes entrance to The Duomo, the Baptistry, the Crypt, the Museo Opa and Porta del Cielo.
Our next stop is The Crypt.
We walk to the entrance and downstairs to the area below the Duomo. On the walls of the crypt we see colorful representations of the Apocryphal Gospels, painted in the Middle Ages.
Since the populace was unable to read, they learned the Gospels from the Church through their art and the mass.
The artwork was very well preserved. It really is a gift to be able to see these works of art.
Next, we visit the Museo Opa.
The first room harbors more excellent art from the Middle Ages.
As we go deeper, we discover castes used in to create statues and pieces of the façade of the church.
I love the display of the rose window with statues alongside it. Do you?
And where was the photo below taken?
The overwhelming amount of art we are seeing is actually messing with my memories.
One thing I do know is the photo below is from the Baptistry.
Again, this is pre-Renaissance art with less three dimensional appearance. It is everywhere in the Baptistry.
I loved every step through all the art history. I hope you did too. But now it is time to visit the unofficial drawing room of Siena, the gigantic 5-sided piazza.
Anyone for artisanal gelato? Me!
Thanks for exploring with me today. And thanks again to Massi the Driver and Italy Unfiltered for traveling with me.
Ciao for now!
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