TORRE DEL MANGIA
The slim and refined Torre del Mangia is thehighest building in Piazza del Campo. Located adjacent to the “Palazzo Publicco” it was the former bell-tower of Siena. As usual in the middle ages, the tower was the main watchful point within the city walls and was utilized as well to summon the citizens in the main square of the town in different state of affairs or to alert them in case of enemies attack or in any other endangered circumstances.
The tower took it name from its earliest guardian and hour-ringer, Giovanni Balduccio, who was nicknamed Mangiaguadagni (spendthrift) because of his habit of spending immediately his salary.
The building of the tower started around 1338 and was concluded in 1348. Its design had been commissioned many years before from the brilliant Florentine architect and sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio (1245 ca- 1310). Because of his death the work was carried on by the Tuscan brothers Muccio and Francesco di Rinaldo, who had been advanced pupils of him. The impressing upper part of the tower in white travertine was built by the talented Tuscan late Gothic architect and sculptor Agostino di Giovanni (active in Siena from 1310 to 1347) from a design is attributed to the celebrated Sienese Byzantine style painter Lippo Memmi (1285 ca-1361)
The splendid Torre del Mangia (88 metres high) is one of the most elevated towers in Italy. It is wholly built in brick and crowned by a stone bell hall. The clock was affixed in the second half of the 14th century and the enormous current bell (6,764 kg.) called “Sunto” was positioned in 1666. A winding staircase with exactly 400 steps conducts to the top of the tower from where visitors can overlook the amazing views of the city of Siena and its neighbouring countryside.
The wonderful “Cappella della Piazza”, joined to the Torre del Mangia, is a fine marble loggia built between 1352 and 1376 and high finished in Renaissance style at the end of the 15th century. Its construction was commissioned by the survivors from the Black Death as an act of gratitude to the Virgin. The terrible plague exterminated two thirds of the city’s population, constituted at the age by 100,000 people.
The current pilasters are from 1378 and the sculptures which ornament them were created between 1378 and 1382 by the well-known Sienese artists Bartolommeo di Tommé and Mariano d’Angelo Romanelli. In the second half of the 15th century the original wooden ceiling was substituted by a beautiful marble vault.
Furthermore, Piazza del Campo is worldwide famous for being the open stage of the Palio: a unique magnificent bareback horse race, which tradition comes back from 1283.
Il Palio takes place every year on 2 July and 16 August.
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PIAZZA DEL CAMPO CLICK HERE
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON FONTE GAIA CLICK HERE
What to See
The Cathedrals : Duomo di Siena
Main Monuments : Piazza del Campo , Palazzo Piccolomini
Main Museums : Museo dell' Opera di Siena , Museo dei Fisiocritici
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