italy
tuscany
Siena

Siena is famous for its distinctive striped cathedral, and the Palio, a four day celebration in July and August, a tradition since the Middle Ages, culminating in a colorful parade and horse race around the Piazza del Campo.

When you hit Il Campo, the big piazza in the center of town, first climb up the Torre del Mangia, the tall bell tower of the Palazzo Pubblico. You might be there when they ring the bells, a marvelous experience.
Palazzo Pubblico - To glimpse what life what in 14th century Siena, look for the Lorenzetti frescoes in the Sala della Pace in the Palazzo Pubblico. The frescoes are one big long picture showing the streets of Siena, town folk riding on horses into the countryside, people working in the fields, shops and city life, the medieval school room.
The Duomo (cathedral) stands out like a zebra at the wild animal park. Outside, there is the striped bell tower, plus ornate gothic carving all over the facade, a rose window and some mosaics, tacked on later for good measure. Inside, take a close look at the Pisano stone pulpit, jammed with beautifully carved scenes of the Madonna and Child, and Last Judgment (people squirming in hell), held up by columns positioned on the backs of lions.

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