In a country overrun with churches, Siena’s 13th-century Romanesque and Gothic Duomo really stands out.
This striped marble building is one of the most striking cathedrals I’ve ever seen. The interior pops with bold bands of black and white (the colors of Siena’s coat of arms) and vivid blue vaults.
The inlaid-marble floor depicts historical and biblical subjects in 56 panels by 40 artists, created from the 14th to 16th centuries.
The exterior is white, green and red marble. Statues of philosophers and prophets adorn the sides (copies, though, since the originals are in the Museo dell’Opera).
As if the cathedral weren’t enough, there’s the overwhelming Libreria Piccolomini, which was constructed by Pope Pius III to house the books of his uncle, Pope Pius II. The frescos depict the career of Pius II, which also included posts as diplomat, poet laureate, bishop and cardinal.Tweet