From "Slowtuscany": Stories about Tuscany by Damiano Andrei
Translation by: Andrea Brown, Giovanna Novelli, Munmun Gosh
Somebody said that everything humanly possible has already been written about the "Piazza del Campo" in Siena. Siena- which is seen in postcards, books, and ashtrays all over the world. When one comes out of any of the dark alleys which leads to the piazza, the first impression is always one of seeing a magnificent stage design.
And so as soon as I get there, I sit down in a spot on that antique brick pavement that gradually descends toward Palazzo Pubblico, the centre point of that fan-shaped piazza. Nearby there is a young Japanese couple that has decided to get married in Siena and to shoot their wedding pictures in this square. While they are posing for the pictures, the bride moves casually in her white silk wedding gown with a short train. The groom, on the other hand, in a blue double-breasted suit, seems rigid and clumsy in front of the photographer. The tradition of throwing handfuls of rice is accompanied by the flight of scared pigeons from the commotion. The maroon colour background of gothic buildings that surround the square and the immobile and serene blue sky are the final elements for good-picture taking. "SMILE"...click.
I give them a smile to say goodbye and I head towards Palazzo Pubblico where I would like to show you something exceptional. Actually, the entire building is exceptional. Its architecture dates back to the 1300's, as well as its works of art and numerous frescos. It's a fairy tale atmosphere composed of huge rooms which are usually not filled with tourists. Let yourselves go and be seduced by the numerous and colourful emblems of the noble families and of legendary personalities.
See the knights and saints which are painted all over the walls. Before entering into the "room of peace" wait until the room is empty in order to truly feel the Siena of the year 1300. You will feel like you are living in that time among knights with their horses at a slow trot, maidens that dance around you, business merchants and artisans at work, farmers in fields and the city with its noble towers, its churches and streets. This is how Ambrogio Lorenzetti, in 1337, imagined and painted the positive effects of a well-governed, prosperous and peaceful city.
But don't forget to turn and look at the other wall because it demonstrates the negative effects of a "bad government": a city devastated by famine, destruction, hate, uncultivated land, and a multitude of terrible monsters- among which are hate, envy and corruption which fall from the sky. Like a great director, Ambrogio Lorenzetti (don't forget his name) demonstrated exceptional detail for nature and for real-life events. Once you have seen Siena, there is no need to go to a theatre for entertainment, because you will have already seen a real-life film.