Thursday, August 25, 2016

Italy Blog #41:City of Siena: Unfinished Cathedral Mystery & Color! - Part 1

Rob in Tom in Siena - City on a Hill
We're back to our Italy Blogs and in #41 today, we'll walk you through the Medieval city of Siena, built on hill (like Montepulciano in the last blog) which has quite a few interesting tidbits, from horses to colors, hospitals and banks.  Here in part 1 of Siena, we'll explain the color and check out the "unfinished Cathedral" and learn why it wasn't completed.

Outside the striped cathedral
WHERE IS IT? Siena is a city in Italy’s central Tuscany, is distinguished by its medieval brick buildings. It is the capital of the province of Siena, south of Florence and north of Rome.

HOW FAR BACK DOES IT GO? The area where Siena is today was actually first settled in the time of the Etruscans (c. 900–400 BC) when it was inhabited by a tribe called the Saina. The Etruscans were an advanced people who changed the face of central Italy through their use of irrigation to reclaim previously unfarmable land, and their custom of building their settlements in well-defended hill forts. A Roman town called Saena Julia was founded at the site in the time of the Emperor Augustus. The first document mentioning it dates from AD 70.

inside the cathedral
WHAT WAS AND IS THE CITY KNOWN FOR? Siena prospered as a trading post, and the constant streams of pilgrims passing to and from Rome to Florence provided a valuable source of income over centuries. Today, it's famous for crystal, agriculture and tourism. 

THE UNFINISHED CATHEDRAL- The Siena Cathedral began construction in the 12th century but it was unfinished.
Green and white marble inside the church
    It is said to be a masterpiece of Italian Romanesque-Gothic architecture. Its main fa├žade was completed in 1380. It was originally supposed to be a huge basilica, the largest then in the world, with an east to west nave but with lack of funds and plague deaths, the project was truncated.In fact, today, the abandoned east wall of a nave still stands. 
The unfinished wall

THE "UNFINISHED MYSTERY" SOLVED - The Black Death plague killed so many people during the time of construction that there was no one to complete it. In fact, about two-thirds of the population of Siena died from the plague.

STRIPES ON THE CATHEDRAL?  The bricks that were used to build the Cathedral were covered by marble, which had a green stripe in it. It was "moorish style." 

INSIDE THE CATHEDRAL - It contained more white and green striped marble. There were also depictions of all the heads of the popes (172 of them). There were 12th century marble slabs on the floor with drawings and carvings in them. 

FAST FACT: COLOR! - The color Siena, which is a red-brown color is actually named for this city. It's because that's the color of the soil. You'll recognize the color mostly because it's a crayon color usually called "Burnt Sienna" from Crayola crayons (and spelled with 2 letter "n"s. 

NEXT: Siena Part 2: Banks and Horses  

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next