Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art

Cimabue

Dante

Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano

Donatello

Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano

Gherarducci

Domenico Ghirlandaio

Giambologna

Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli

masaccio

masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello

perugino

piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti

pinturicchio

pontormo

sandro botticelli

sano di pietro

sassetta

simone martini

spinello aretino


taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio

vecchietta

 

             
 

Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Madonna del Terremoto, detail, 1467, Archivo di Stato, Siena


Travel guide for Tuscany
       
   


Sienese Biccherna Covers | Biccherne Senesi


   
   

In the second half of the quattrocento artists, destined to noticeably change the figurative culture through the more “modern” forms of the Renaissance, emerge in Siena: in Sculpture Donatello’s presence is very important; he is the artist who clearly caused the emergence of individual masters such as Vecchietta, Francesco di Giorgio, Giovanni di Stefano, Giacomo Cozzarelli.
These artists drew from the Florentine master the ability of shaping the matter with subtle plastic vibrations and at the same time gave to the represented figures the intensity of emotions rendered with dramatic participation. In Painting, thanks to the works of Vecchietta, Matteo di Giovanni and above all Francesco di Giorgio and his assistants Neroccio and Pietro Orioli, we see a transition from the abstract values of formal elegance to the more conscious search for spatial and chromatic standards.

Biccherna is the Italian term used to describe small painted panels, named after the chief financial office of Siena, were initially created as covers for the state ledgers or administrative balance sheets between the 13th and 17th centuries. The biccherne provide a fascinating window into the daily life of an Italian city-state and evolving republic at the dawn of modern economic thinking. These remarkable works of art derive their name, biccherne, from the government agency that originally commissioned them, La Biccherna.
In 1257 the Office of the Biccherna, the most important financial branch of Sienese government, charged with managing all the revenues and expenses of the comune, inaugurated the custom of commissioning panel paintings from the best artists in the community to function as the covers of its semi-annual collection of public ledgers. Shortly thereafter, the Office of the General Gabella, which was responsible for all duties and other taxes on commodities and business transactions, followed suit. Eventually this practice was adopted by other agencies and independent organizations of the city state such as the Hospital of Santa Maria della Scala (Saint Mary of the Stairway) and the university. Today more than 100 of these fascinating works of art are part of the collection of the State Archives in Siena.
The style and subject matter of the biccherne evolved paralleling and documenting the growth of the Siena itself. The earliest extant biccherna (1258) depicts simply a portrait of the bursar Ugo di San Galgano working on the account books at his desk. By 1340 portrayals of bursar with a contributor provide visual evidence of the concept of a modern bank. As the city state's importance and self-awareness grew, the themes of the covers were expanded to include allegories of the religious and political life of Siena, and even specific historical events. In 1440 an anonymous artist depicts a stonemason building the new fortress walls. And a panel from 1467 shows the Virgin protecting the City during an earthquake while her citizens sought safety in tents constructed outside the city walls.
By the 15th century artists seemed no longer constricted by the size of the records themselves and even began to create small wall paintings. In 1555 Siena was finally defeated by its archrival Florence and absorbed into the grand duchy of Cosimo de' Medici. And, although biccherne were still occasionally commissioned into the 17th century, Siena's loss of independent power was reflected in the declining relevance of this art form.[1]

The dispersal of these book covers from the Biccherna office of Siena began in the 18th century when the Sienese families began to take possession of some of these panels with the claim that they were evidence of their family history: for them their value was historical and heraldic rather than artistic. When the Napoleonic troops invaded Siena at the beginning of the 19th century, the Biccherna archive was moved to Paris; it was sent back to Siena after the Restoration. On its way back to Italy, one of the caravans fell in the Rhone river and all its content was therefore lost. Furthermore, when the rest of the archive returned to Italy, officials who were working in the Palazzo Pubblico sold some of these tavolette on the market; it was probably at that time that 414-1892 was sold.

At the beginning of the 19th century, the head of the Public Library of Siena managed to rescue many of these tavolette and to reassemble them. Some were returned to the Sienese authorities by the same families who had claimed them previously (see Le Biccherne di Siena, 2002 pp. 70-88). The book-covers were transferred to the Sienese Academy first, and later they were deposited at the State Archive. Others that had in the meantime entered private collections outside Siena, are now to be found in public and private collections all around the world, but the majority are still held in Siena.

   
   
 
Fraiar Ugo, Camarlingo, frair of san galgano, made by Giulio di Pietro in 1258, is the oldest Biccherna. The first wooden boards are simple and have no intention of being masterpieces. Subsequently, however, the paintings become more elaborate and rich and are commissioned to famous authors as Giovanni di Paolo, Sano di Pietro, Lorenzo di Pietro called il Vecchietta.
The layout of the boards remains, however, unchanged: at the top there is the painting and at the bottom the inscription bearing the date, the names of the main components of Biccherna, the arms of their families.
By the mid-fifteenth century, then, the covers of records were no longer painted but real paintings were commissioned to hang on the walls of the office when the Camarlingo and the Provveditori left definitively their assignment.

The subjects of the scenes represent leading events of the town, religious themes, episodes of contemporary politics.

 
 
Diotisalve di Speme, The arms of the four Provveditori, 1263

Many of Sienese Biccherna Covers have Our Lady as common subject. This is not so strange, the history of Siena is full of events which show the particular devotion of the Sienese to Our Lady.

See for example how nice is the follow board which represents Our Lady in the act of protecting Siena by earthquakes, made by Francesco di Giorgio Martini in 1467

Art in Tuscany | Giovanni di Paolo | The Annunciation and Expulsion from Paradise

 
Giovanni di Paolo, L'Annunciation, 1445, Vatican

Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439-1501), who emerges as the key to much of later Quattrocento art, was an Italian painter of the Sienese School and a sculptor, as well as being, in Nikolaus Pevsner's terms, "one of the most interesting later Quattrocento architects'" and a visionary architectural theorist.
As a military engineer he executed architectural designs and sculptural projects and built almost seventy fortifications for the Federico da Montefeltro, Count of Urbino, for whom he was working in the 1460s, building city walls as at Iesi and early examples of star-shaped fortifications.

Born in Siena, he apprenticed as a painter with Vecchietta. His earliest dated works are manuscript illuminations. Mournful eyes, a halting linear flow in drapery and hair, delicately awkward posing of necks and hands, and classically inspired architecture characterize his style.
More sophisticated than his paintings, Francesco's sculpture shows acquaintance with earlier Florentine masters such as Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti, along with his contemporary Antonio del Pollaiuolo.

By the 1480s Francesco was among Italy's leading architects. Working in Urbino for Federigo da Montefeltro by 1477, Francesco served as a diplomat, sculpted bronze reliefs, built 136 military fortresses, and probably completed the ducal palace.
Francesco authored the first important Western writings on military engineering, works keenly studied by Leonardo and others.
Francesco di Giorgio finished his career as architect in charge of the works at the Duomo di Siena, where his bronze angels are on the high altar and some marble floor mosaics are attributed to his designs.
The typical tablet from the Biccherna (revenue office) has a votive subject: the Virgin as intercessor to protect the city against earthquake. The contribution of an anonymous assistant referred to as "Fiduciario de Francesco" is assumed.

Art in Tuscany | Francesco di Giorgio Martini


 

Francesco di Giorgio Martini, Madonna del Terremoto, 1467, Archivo di Stato, Siena
The Siena Cathedral was dedicated to the Virgin Mary from at least the tenth century; the thirteenth-century Cathedral was dedicated specifically to the Assunta (the Virgin Assumed). Not only is the Cathedral dedicated to the Virgin: the entire city is dedicated to her as well. Siena took Mary as its patron and ruler by the middle of the thirteenth century. This relationship is movingly evoked by a chronicle — apparently written by Paolo di Tommaso Montauri — that records the Battle of Montaperti (1260) fought by the Sienese and Florentines. On the eve of the battle, the sindaco (mayor) of Siena, a citizen named Buonaguida, processed to the Cathedral with a band of townspeople behind him. Arriving at the Cathedral, the bishop led Buonaguida to the altar of the Virgin Mary, where he prostrated himself and vowed that should the Virgin protect the Sienese, he would dedicate the city to her. Indeed, the Sienese were victorious the following day despite unfavorable odds, a miracle of such importance to them that they have preserved relics of the battle to this day. The Sienese took their fidelity to the Virgin seriously. In 1483, they renewed their vow to the Virgin following a period of submission to the Visconti of Milan. The declaration is vividly depicted on one of the Commune's painted record-books. The image shows the city magistrates handing the keys of Siena to the thaumaturgic icon of the Madonna of Thanks in the Cathedral. [2]

From early in the thirteenth century it became customary to decorate with designs and paintings the wooden covers of the volumes in which accounts were kept. Many of these covers have been preserved and are highly prized, both for their artistic value and for the intimate glimpses they afford of Sienese life. The 1483 cover, titled L'unione delle classi e l'offerta delle chiavi della città alla Virgine is important also because testifies the original location of the Maestà made by Duccio di Buoninsegna in 1311 in the Cathedral, that is to say, in the altar. Nowadays you can see this masterpiece at the Museo dell'Opera Metropolitana.

Art in Tuscany | Sienese Biccherna Covers | Biccherne Senesi


 

Siena offering of the keys of the city to the Madonna delle Grazie. Siena, Archivio di Stato, Museo delle Tavolette di Biccherne

Two men stand behind the desk in the Biccherna office in Siena; the Camerlingo in red receives the taxes paid by the three men in the foreground while his colleague records the transaction. Above them is the Balazana or coat of arms of the city of Siena, beneath them are six coat of arms and below, a long inscription on a white ground.
This Biccherna panel, so named after the chief financial office of Siena, was initially created as a cover for official documents dating to 1402 when Siena was under the domination of Gian Galeazzo Visconti duke of Milan. Previously catalogued as by an unknown painter, it was recognized as being associated with the workshop of Paolo di Giovanni Fei in 2002. Fei (c. 1344–1411) was one of the leading Sienese painters of his time and held several prestigious civic offices. Between 1395-1410 he was working at Siena Cathedral. Works such as the Birth of the Virgin (Siena, Pin. N.) and the Assumption of the Virgin (Washington, DC, N.G.A.) reveal his indebtedness to the Lorenzetti brothers, Bartolo di Fredi and to Simone Martini. Fei delighted in colour and incidental detail rather than rational spatial illusionism. The scene at the top of 414-1892 takes place in the office of the Biccherna, located on the ground floor of the Sienese Palazzo Pubblico. The camarlingo behind the counter at right, and the scrivener at left process the finances of the three men opposite them. Three strongboxes are visible on the counter, bench and floor. At the top centre is the balzana or heraldic crest of Siena and below the scene are six escutcheons of the families involved with this biccherna.The documents once protected by the V&A’s book cover are now lost, but similar parchment sheets can be seen in the State Archive in Siena. The manuscript leaves preceding the account papers within the tavolette were beautifully illuminated with elaborate initials and borders.[3]

 

Paolo di Giovanni Fei, The Camarlingo Niccolò di Leonardo della Gazaia, His Scrivener and Three taxpayers
Dietisalvi di Speme worked in Siena between 1250 to 1291. His work influenced Cimabue. Some of his work is preserved in the State Archives in Siena. His Madonna and Child with Angels is in the Pinacoteca di Siena. He collaborated with Guido da Siena.
 

Dietisalvi di Speme, Camarlengo Ranieri Pagliaresi, about 1270

This panel was painted in 1343 as the cover of an account book of the Biccherna, the financial administrators of the commune of Siena. The Biccherna was a committee of five individuals, four provveditori (purveyors) and one camarlingo (secretary), who served for six months. Two account books were issued each year. Most earlier examples show only the camarlingo, who between 1275 and 1349 was almost always a monk, often from the Cistercian abbey of San Galgano.

This example shows the camarlingo at left, in the white robes of a Cistercian monk, the clerk in the center, writing in a book, and one of the four provveditori at right. The arms of the provveditori were represented at the top of the panel, but are now indecipherable.

 
Italian (Sienese) Painter, Tempera on wood,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, dated 1343
The Gabella tablet shows the gains of the town in time of peace and the losses occurred during wartime. It was painted after pope Pius II negotiated the peace between Bartolomeo Colleoni and Pietro dei Medici in 1468.
 

Benvenuto di Giovanni, Le Finanze del Comune in Tempo di Pace e in Tempo di Guerra. Siena, archivio di Stato, Museo delle tavolette di Biccherna.

Lippo Vanni (Lippo di Vanni) was an Italian painter and illuminator. He is documented as a painter and illuminator in Siena between 1344 and 1375, and in 1360 and 1373 he took part in the General Council of Siena. The earliest work attributed to him is the illumination of the choirbooks for the Collegiata at San Gimignano (c. 1340-42, San Gimignano, Museo Arte Sacra), in which the supple movement and individuality of figures and scenes already show the expressive quality characteristic of Lippo's later documented work.

Lippo Vanni, in 1352, frescoed a large Coronation of the Virgin in the office of the Biccherna.

The history of ownership is not definitive or comprehensive, as it is under constant review and revision by MFA curators and researchers.


Art in Tuscany | Lippo Vanni

 

Biccherna Cover. The Tribute Offering, from ca. 1364, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

On the cover of the ledger of the Gabella is celebrated the allegory of the good virtues; here the integrity of the public officials represents the foundation of the good government.

Art in Tuscany | Benvenuto di Giovanni
Art in Tuscany | Sienese Biccherna Covers | Biccherne Senesi
 
Benvenuto di Giovanni
The Good Government in the Office of the Gabella, Archivo di Stato, Siena

 
Guidoccio Cozzarelli
The Camerlingo and the Gabella’s Officials dressed in repentant robes ask the Virgin to enter Siena

The panel represents the officials of the Gabella office imploring the Virgin to enter Siena to protect it because of the political instability. Traditionally attributed to Guidoccio Cozzarelli is presented at the National Gallery exhibition in London as a work of Guidoccio’s master Matteo di Giovanni.

 

Guidoccio Cozzarelli
The Camerlingo and the Gabella’s Officials dressed in repentant robes ask the Virgin to enter Siena. Siena, archivio di Stato, Museo delle tavolette di Biccherna

Guidoccio Cozzarelli
The Virgin guiding “the ship of the Republic”
tempera on panel, 54x36.2 cm (1487)
Siena - ARCHIVIO DI STATO, MUSEO DELLE TAVOLETTE DI BICCHERNA

The panel refers to the return to Siena of the magistracy of the Nine lead by Pandolfo Petrucci, who later became Siena’s ruler, as a welcome change occurred under the Virgin’s protection. Traditionally attributed to Guidoccio Cozzarelli it is presented at the National Gallery exhibition in London as a work of Guidoccio’s master Matteo di Giovanni.

 


Guidoccio Cozzarelli
The Virgin guiding “the ship of the Republic”. Siena, archivio di Stato, Museo delle tavolette di Biccherna

 

Neroccio di Bartolomeo de' Landi (Siena, giugno 1447 – Siena, 1500) è stato un pittore e scultore italiano del primo Rinascimento a Siena.
In età giovanile allievo del Vecchietta, successivamente entrò nella bottega di Francesco di Giorgio dal 1468.
 
Biccherne, Neroccio di Bartolomeo de’Landi (attribuito), La Vergine raccomanda la città di Siena a Gesù, tempera su tavola, (1480)   
Neroccio di Bartolomeo de’Landi (attribuito), La Vergine raccomanda la città di Siena a Gesù, tempera su tavola, (1480)   

Photogallery Archivio di Stato | Palazzo Piccolomini

 

   
  Palazzo piccolomini, siena, 02 stemma piccolomini   I senesi demoliscono la fortezza degli spagnoli 1552
Vista meravigliosa dall Archivio di Stato sulla Torre del Mangia e su parte della piazza del Campo  

Palazzo Piccolomini, Siena, stemma Piccolomini (Banchi di Sotto, Siena)

 

 

The Sienese demolish the fortress of the Spanish, Giorgio Di Giovanni, 1552, Siena, Archivio di Stato, Museo delle Tavolette di Biccherne

 

824SienaPalPiccolomini   825SienaViaBanchiSotto   Palazzo piccolomini, siena, ferri con crescenti, 03
       

Palazzo Piccolomini, Siena, ferri con crescenti (Banchi di Sotto, Siena)

 

  Francesco di Giorgio, Pope Pius II Names Cardinal His Nephew   Dietisalvi di speme, Tavoletta di biccherna del camarlengo Ildebrandino Pagliaresi, 1264
Il Caleffo dell'Assunta" di Niccolò di Ser Sozzo, capolavoro della miniatura gotica, Archivio di Stato di Siena   Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1439–1501), Pio II impone il cappello cardinalizio al nipote Francesco Piccolomini Todeschini   Dietisalvi di speme, Tavoletta di biccherna del camarlengo Ildebrandino Pagliaresi
 
 
   


[1] LE BICCHERNE DI SIENA. Arte e finanza all'alba dell'economia moderna. (SIENA'S BICCHERNA COVERS. Art and finance at the dawn of the modern economy)
The Corcoran Gallery of Art | Sienese Paintings from the Dawn of the Modern Financial Age | www.corcoran.org
Alessandro Tomei, Le Biccherne di Siena, Arte e finanza all’alba dell’economia moderna, Bolis Edizioni, Azzano San paolo, 2004


Historical context note

Biccherna is the Italian term used to describe small painted panels such as this, so named after the chief financial office of Siena, which were initially created as covers for official documents between the 13th and 17th centuries. The term is also generally used to describe painted covers and small panels associated with other Sienese civic offices and institutions, such as the tax office (Gabella), the hospital of S Maria della Scala, the Opera del Duomo and various lay confraternities.

The officials of the Biccherna comprised a camarlingo, charged with expenditure on behalf of the Comune, and four provveditori, responsible for revenues and approving disbursements. All officials were appointed for six-month terms, at the end of which the working accounts were transferred to parchment registers to be presented to the Consiglio Generale of Siena for inspection. Initially these were prepared as two distinct volumes: the Entrata of the Provveditori, showing revenues received, and the Uscita of the Camarlingo showing expenditures. Each volume then received a painted wooden cover for the official presentation to the council. During the 13th century the Uscita cover bore an image of the camarlingo at his task and the Entrata cover had the names and escutcheons of the four provveditori,. The panel was generally divided in two sections: a painted scene at the top and an inscription with the coat of arms at the bottom, in the middle a leather strap tied the cover and the parchment pages together: the marks of where the strap would have been placed are often still visible.
The earliest surviving biccherna dates from the second term of 1258 and followed this tradition. Such representations continued until the mid-15th century, but the subject-matter became increasingly varied including: an Allegory of the Plague (1437; Berlin, Schloss Köpenick), attributed to Giovanni di Paolo, and the Coronation of Pope Pius II (1460; Siena, Pal. Piccolomini, Archivio di Stato) with a view of Siena, attributed to il Vecchietta.
These carefully decorated objects were evidently a matter of civic pride for a merchant society such as the Sienese and soon became a symbol of the city itself, explaining in part the predominance of the crests and the armorial bearings featured on the panel.

Partially as a result of damage done to the covers because of their frequent use, the practice of attaching panels to the financial registers was replaced by the creation of panels to be hung on the walls of the Biccherna, and as the dimensions were no longer limited to the size of the registers, the biccherne grew in size. The last surviving example is dated 1682.
The authority of the Biccherna office began to decline in the 16th century when Siena was subjected to Medici rule (after 1557) and the office was suppressed in 1786.

Up until 1257, the camarlingo was a layman, after which time it was decided that he should be chosen from within the religious community as an assurance of loyal, uncorrupted public service. The camarlingo was subsequently chosen among the Cistercians of the powerful abbey of San Galgano, known for their training in mathematics, or among the friars of the Order of the Umiliati. This tradition continued until 1350 when laymen were elected, until 1452 when clerics were again favoured.
The provveditori were always laymen, two from the working class, one a judge or notary, and the fourth a nobleman.

(Lightbown 1963, pp. II-III).

[2] Andrea Campbell, A spectacular celebration of the Assumption in Siena, Renaissance Quarterly, June 22, 2005

[3] Andrea Campbell, A spectacular celebration of the Assumption in Siena, Renaissance Quarterly, June 22, 2005


Painters of Sienese Biccherna Covers

* Dietisalvi di Speme, qui en aurait peint 56 dont il en reste seulement quatre (vers 1270).
* L'historien de l'art Enzo Carli, devenu spécialiste de cette forme d'art, a pu attribuer à Duccio une des tavolette datant de 1278.
* Vigoroso da Siena (1er semestre 1293)
* Segna di Bonaventura, une tablette de 1306
* Bartolomeo Bulgarini, connu par des documents de 1345 à 1378, auteur d'une tablette de Biccherna de 1353.
* Ugolino Lorenzetti, une tablette de 1353.
* Lippo Vanni : La tavoletta di gabella en (1364 - conservée au Museum of Fine Arts de Boston)
* Giovanni di Paolo : La tavoletta di gabella (1445).
* Lorenzo di Pietro dit Il Vecchietta : Le Couronnement du pape Pie II (1458).
* Francesco di Giorgio Martini : La Vergine protegge Siena dai terremoti (1467).
* Benvenuto di Giovanni : Le Finanze del Comune in Tempo di Pace e in Tempo di Guerra (1468).
* Sano di Pietro : La sapienza emanata da Dio (1471) et scena di 'nozze gentilizie' di nobili senesi (1473)
* Guidoccio Cozzarelli : La Vierge guidant le vaisseau de la République (1487)
* Ventura Salimbeni (1568-1613) : (Mariage de Ferdinand Ier de Médicis avec Christine de Lorraine et Baptême de Cosme II de Médicis, fils du gand-duc Ferdinand).
* Artiste anonyme : Tournoi sur le Campo de Sienne en l'honneur de Ferdinand Ier de Médicis (1571).



Siena | Archivio di Stato di Siena

Tuscany | Siena Surroundings

Art in Tuscany | Sienese School of Painting

Museum of the Biccherna Tablets in Siena. In Palazzo Piccolomini, typical style of Florentine Renaissance, this museum holds the ancient tablets of the state ledgers and a collection of ancient manuscripts and books. The Biccherna panels offer a history of Sienese art in miniature, over the course of which you can watch the Byzantine formality yield to a Gothic sense of realism, then supplanted by Renaissance one-point perspective, and so on. The panels also offer crucial historical information, showing the monks and nobles who served as tax officers.
Archivio di Stato di Siena | Collezione delle Tavolette di Biccherna e Mostra documentaria | www.archiviostato.si.it (it)
The Museum is located in Via Banchi di Sopra # 52 and it is open from Monday to Saturday at 9.30 - 10.30 and 11.30
Free entrance.

www.arteantica.eu | Biccherne Senesi
 
 

 
 

Pienza
 
Podere Santa Pia, view from the garden
on the valley below

 
San Quirico d'Orcia


Villa is Tuscany


Case Vacanze Toscana | Artist and Writer's Residency | Podere Santa Pia

 

Wine regions
Podere Santa Pia
Sansepolcro




Villa La Foce
In the background Monte Amiata

 
Siena, duomo
 
Siena, Piazza del Campo

         
Siena is reknowned, both nationally and internationally, for the Palio horse race contested by the 17 contrada which divide this small city. But Siena is also unique thanks to its maze of narrow streets, its numerous towers and elegant town houses, the immense Piazza del Campo and the Cathedral which dominate the heart of the Medieval city encircled by impressive walls. As far as culture is concerned, Siena has been a city of great artistic significance since ancient times with internationally acclaimed institutions such as the Chigiana Musical Academy, the Accademia dei Fisiocritici and Accademia degli Intronati, as well as the University for Foreigners. Sites not to be missed are the Church of St Domenico, the Church of St Francesco, the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art and Palazzo Salimbeni which houses important frescoes.

Villa La Foce in Chianciano Terme
In 1927, Marquis Origo and his wife Iris bought Villa La Foce, which in origin was a hostelry. The two benefactors had the area reclaimed and commissioned the construction of a kindergarten, of a school and of a surgery in the neighbourhood. The garden surrounding the building is the outstanding element of the whole estate: it was designed by Cecil Pinsent, a landscape architect who at the beginning of the 20th century projected the parks of the most important Florentine residences. Divided into various sectors following the trend of the land, the garden was realised in different phases, from 1927 to 1939, and features a lemon garden, a rosary and a sector decorated with box and laurel hedges, in which a fountain is to be admired. The realisation of the last part of the garden began in 1938. Here there are the so-called "Grotta azzurra" (the azure grotto), decorated with seven niches, and a statue representing Nature bearing the fruits of the land.