Loggia of the Civic Museum
The stairway in the Loggia del Giudice leads to the upper floor through an elegant loggetta, covered with a roof supported on columns, and to the Museo Civico.
The Museo is a treasure trove of precious works of art by artists from Florence and Siena. Many of the works come from public and religious buildings throughout the city.
The viewer stands agape in amazement at the crucifixes, Madonnas, and biblical scenes. One of the oldest and most precious works is found in the first room, a wooden Crucifix from the 1200s created by Coppo di Marcovaldo. The work is one of the most important in 13th-century Tuscan painting.
The same room contains the “Madonna dell'Umiltà” from 1466 by Benozzo Gozzoli and two tondos depicting a delicate Annunciation from 1483 by Filippino Lippi. Finally, there is another Madonna surrounded by saints, a 1512 work by Pinturicchio.
In the same room can also be found a very impressive panel painting by Taddeo di Bartolo that depicts San Gimignano, the bishop of Modena. Around the central image unfold stories of his life. The saint holds a view of the city in his hand, easily recognized by the surrounding walls and the towers. It is fascinating to observe all the details, seeing how San Gimignano looked in 1400 and noting how little it has changed.
Also in this room is a completely painted wooden tabernacle, glittering with gold and colour, that tells the story of Saint Gregory and of Saint Fina, who was born in San Gimignano. It is no coincidence that she also shows a view of the city. The wood doors depict stories about the miracles of the saint. The work dates back to 1300 and originally contained the relics of Saint Fina.
One of the most mysterious places in the palazzo is the Camera del Podestà. It is a room inside the Torre Grossa whose charm is due in part to its limited size. The frescoes are truly rare, mostly because of their very unusual theme: the sexual initiation of a young gentleman. The author is Memmo di Filippuccio, who created it in the early 14th century. Some images are ruined, but the clearly discernible story shows the first amorous experiences of a youth. Initially, the mother tries to restrain him. The following scenes tell the story of the first misadventures and experiences of courtship, a damsel in a bath, and finally, the youth climbing into bed with a woman.
In the lowest part of the wall are frescoes categorically opposed to sexual love. Here also appear Paolo and Francesca, two secret lovers killed by her husband, as told by Dante in the Divine Comedy.