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From the door overlooking the Piazza, close to the chapel, one enters the Courtyard of the Podestà (meaning 'Chief Magistrate' or 'Governor'). It was built in 1325 on an elegant brick colonnade on which rises a floor with big trifora (three-arched) windows. As well as the series of governors' coats of arms, one can see the remains of the stone statue of the 'Mangia' and the 'Wolf that feeds the twins', the work of Giovanni Turino and the symbol of Siena. From here one enters the 'Torre del Mangia' and the Civic Museum.
Finished at the beginning of the 1300s, to house the Government of the Nine, the Palazzo Comunale (the Town Hall) of Siena sits on the Piazza del Campo. It has an elegant plain façade with little decoration, and expands horizontally. On this façade, one distinctive feature stands out the white strip of clear marble on the ground floor. The architectural rhythm on the façade is created by the consistent alternating of big trifore (three-arched) and bifora (two-arched) windows, and also by the delicate design of the architectural frames that refine the appearance of the building.
Recurring on the tympana of the doors and windows is the black and white coat-of-arms of the Town Council of Siena, the so-called 'Balzana'. It comes directly from the ancient legend to which Siena attributes its origins: while fleeing from Romolo, the mythical sons of Remo, Aschio and Senio - after whom the city is named - arrived on the hill where Siena was founded, on 2 horses, one black and one white.
Beside the Palace soars the slender figure of the Torre del Mangia, 102 metres high. Climbing the 332 steps you can admire the exceptional panorama of the urban fabric of the city, one of the most uniform and best conserved in Italy.
A panorama that , however, in the 1300s, would have been very different: a jungle of high towers it is said that one could count more than 100 of them in the city that noble families competed against each other to build, and that gave Siena that particular vertical tension, still visible today, even if to a lesser extent, in other smaller centres, like San Gimignano. Broken off following fights between families, the rest of the towers were demolished by the Spanish to be utilised as construction material. Today, the Campo only partially conserves that which is the original architectural uniformity, dictated by the Palazzo Pubblico: all doors and windows of buildings had to incorporate the Sienese arch a lowered arch surmounted by a pointed arch - the main windows had to be trifora (three-arched) or bifora (two-arched). Close to the entrance portal of the Palace you find the other symbol of Siena, the wolf with the two Roman twins, in gilded bronze. The work of Giovanni and Lorenzo di Turino, in 1430, is today kept inside the Palace.
On the first floor of the Palace is seated the Museum, where we find exhibited masterpieces of the Sienese school (XIV-XVI century), sculptures, goldsmith's art, coins, arms, earthenware and ceramics.
The Sala del Mappamondo (the World Map Room), used to be the headquarters of the Council of the Republic. The room was so-called after the enormous wooden disc by Ambrogio Lorenzetti, depicting the territory of the Republic. The grandiose Maestà by Simone Martini (1315 and 1321) stands out as one of the greatest masterpieces of European gothic art, a work that represents the great and evolved civility of the Sienese 1300s and is more advanced in the pictorial and spatial conception than the much more famous Maestà by Duccio di Buoninsegna, which is kept in the Opera del Duomo. Here the virgin is no longer depicted in the cold and hieratic forms of Byzantine painting, but, thanks to a hazy drawing and to the use of warmer, softer colours, the virgin is enriched with an intense and deep humanity. The celestial court that surrounds her is also portrayed in a new way; single characters each assume their own pose and no longer belong to an indistinct togetherness of motionless figures. On the opposite walls is another masterpiece by Simone Martini, the very famous Guidoriccio da Fogliano, emblem of the virtue and civil power of the old Republic of Siena.
Adjacent ot the Sala del Mappamondo is the Room of the Government of the Nine, called the Sala della Pace. The nine judges that governed Siena from 1292 to 1355 met here in fact, they could never leave the Palace, except on public holidays. On three sides of the room is the fresco, the very famous cycle of Allegoria del Buono e del Cattivo Governo, work of Ambrogio Lorenzetti.
Commissioned by the Government of the Nine between 1338 and 1340, the work, in its representation of binomial peace and war, celebrates a tight political will to maintain peace and stability. On the central walls the just governor, depicted in the shoes of an old sage with the wolf and twins, symbol of Siena, at his feet, sits between the virtues that keep watch over the good government, represented in the form of young women: the virtues of peace, that gives its name to the room, strength, prudence, magnanimity, truth, temperance and justice. On the side walls you can observe the effects of the good government, in the images of an industrious and smiling medieval city, as wells as those, tragic and terrible effects of the bad government, personified as a dark and fearful demon.
The very high Torre del Mangia (102 metres including the lightning conductor), owes its name to its first owner, Giovanni di Balduccio, called 'il mangiaguadagni', who would often squander his earnings at the table on the pleasure of food.
It was built between 1325 and 1348, as a clear symbol of the civic community. It was constructed by two brothers, Francesco and Muccio di Rinaldo. Its completion in white travertine, however, was probably carried out by Agostino di Giovanni.
It is said that coins of good wishes have been buried in its foundations, as was the custom in Medieval Europe, and that under every corner stones with Latin and Hebrew letters have been placed, in order to ward off the danger of storms.
The present bell, called the 'Sunto', weighs 6764 kilos, and was put in place at the top of the bell chamber in 1666.