giovedì 1 agosto 2013

Magnificent mosaic floor unmasked in Siena Cathedral

If you come to Tuscany in the next months, do not miss the rare opportunity to see the spectacular Renaissance mosaics covering the marble floor in Siena’s cathedral. 

After the huge success of last year's opening, the magnificient floor will be visible to the public for another two-month period this summer, starting from 18th August and with purchase of a 7 euro Cathedral entrance ticket or Siena Combination Pass.

The 14,000 square feet of marble mosaics, made up of 56 panels,  usually covered to protect them from the thousands of visitors who visit the chatedral each year, depict vivid stories from the Bible and classical antiquity, in black, white, green, red and blue marble. 

The floor, which is unique in Italy, extends throughout the whole of the cathedral and took some 500 years to create, with local workmen including mainly Siena-native artists toiling on it from the 1300s to the 1800s. The historian Giorgio Vasari described it in his “Lives of Artists” as “the most beautiful, the greatest and most magnificent floor which was ever created.”
Although there are decorative geometric and floral elements, what makes this floor so startling are the figures: scenes from the Bible, allegories about fortune and ancient philosophers and symbols of Siena and its Ghibelline allegiance.

Remember to see the oldest mosaic, the “She-Wolf of Siena” (executed in around 1373), which shows the wolf suckling infants Romulus and Remus: myth has it that while Romulus founded Rome, Siena was founded by Remus’ son, Senius. 

The mosaics will be unmasked after the Palio di Siena horse race, until the end of October.