Posted by: Debra Kolkka | April 4, 2012

The best view in Siena?


On August 23, 1339, the “Gran Consiglio della Campana” of Siena decided to greatly enlarge the cathedral. The foundation stone was laid on February 2nd, 1335 and work continued rapidly until errors were discovered in the construction. The project was abandoned and it was decided to simply extend the old choir over the Baptistry.

What is left of the extension is the Facciatone…the unfinished facade of the cathedral. We climbed to the top of it yesterday for excellent views over the cathedral, the rooftops of Siena and the glorious Tuscan countryside.

It doesn’t look all that high in this photo until you look at the people at the top. You find the entrance to the Facciatone on the top floor of the Cathedral Museum, where are kept the original pieces from the Cathedral. Many of the sculptures seen on the facade are copies, as the originals face damage from the elements.

As usual there is a tiny spiral staircase leading to the first viewing point.








Looking across to the Campo.


And out into Tuscany.


Those rooftops.

Then it was up an even tinier spiral staircase to the top.







Being nosey, I like being able to peer into people’s houses.


There is a question mark in the title. That is because you can climb to the top of the tower in the Campo. Next time.


  1. Breathtaking Debra! Quite literally by the sounds of it. I love the details you notice from that height. The roofscape is wonderful. I love the colours.

    • Siena is a gorgeous colour and it seems to change with the time of day and the weather.

  2. Rafael says that it was not very easy to be an architect in the Middle Ages and poor Giovanni di Agostino (or Agostino di Sienna}, the guy responsible for the proposed extensions, was better known as a sculptor, rather than an architect. Also, at the tme, there were practically no plans, elevations, etc. They used cords and ropes to mark a very basic layout and measurements were a very loose concept. Workers were illiterate and they could only use their fingers to count… Consequently, we can only admire those buildings that, through a combination of exceptional skills and a lot of good luck managed to get completed and survive. Generally, the “mistakes” were quickly demolished and the materials recycled. Siena is an exception to the rule… Great photos, Debra!

    • I think it is incredible that anything survives from those times. The buildings are a tribute to the ingenuity of these people.

  3. Lovely story about the building and breathtaking views. I love the window boxes and herbs growing on the ledges.

    • I love peering into the lives of the people in these lovely houses.

  4. An excellent follow up for me because I recently saw a Rick Steves show in Siena. Many thanks for sharing the beauty you captured.

    • Siena is one of my favourite towns in Italy.

  5. OH someday, someday, someday…a girl can dream…

    • Siena is a must of you come to Italy.

  6. Siena looks very nice. I think if your pictures were in sepia the town would look really cool. It is on my places to visit next time I come back to Italy.

    • Siena is gorgeous. Thank you for your comment. I actually like the colour of Siena just as it is.

  7. Your pictures brought back happy memories of our climb to the top! I love the erratic patterns of the rooftops and the detail of the tiles. The striped marble cathedral is strikingly beautiful at different angles. We were amazed at how well preserved Siena is, considering much of it was built centuries ago. Amazing, too, that the tree squeezed in the square could grow so tall!
    Thank you, Mulino Dominilllo, for your historical information – always compliments Debra’s photographic observations.

  8. We went back into the cathedral and found Pintoricchio and Rapael in the Piccolomini.

  9. Such a particular city, you captured it so well.

    • Siena is a very special city. I discover something new to love each time I go there.

  10. What a stunning view–though I don’t know if I could climb that high! How narrow are the stairs?

    • The stairs were not too bad. The last few were narrow, one person at a time, but worth the effort.

  11. If I had only seen this when I was there, I would’ve had been there in a Quicksilver speed.

    You must be exhausted going up there. How many steps? You know?

    • There are not that many steps as you start from the 4th floor of the building beside the facciatone.

  12. I didn’t make the climb on either of my visits to Siena so I appreciate both seeing the view I missed and gazing at familiar sites. Lovely.

    • Siena looks amazing from every angle.

  13. Sienna is a must see if in italy!!! for sure…

    • by george miori. last reply

  14. My views of Siena included their hospital. Not exactly what most tourists want to see. I had broken my foot on the first day of a trip and Siena was the closest hospital. Well taken care of even though none of us spoke the same language.

  15. i adore the scenes. i always think of going back to Tuscany.

    • Siena is one of my favourite places in Italy.

  16. […] more on Siena click here, here and […]

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