Santa Maria della Scala Museum
Santa Maria della Scala,
one of Europe's oldest hospitals, terminated its health-service functions some years ago and became (and in
part still is) the object of an important renovation operation for museum and cultural purposes. This
large complex, located in the heart of Siena, in front of the Cathedral, conserves extraordinarily intact
testimonials of thousands of years of history, revealing a path that runs uninterruptedly from the
Etruscan and Roman age, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to us.
It is a unique synthesis, blending images of Etruscan civilization, tired pilgrims, wanderers and the sick,
noble gentlemen, Byzantine emperors, abandoned children and praying monks. And in the tracks of so many
suggestions we find monumental rooms, narrow corridors, brightly colored frescoes with stories of lives
lived, dark crypts, labyrinthine tunnels dug into tufaceous rock and immense spaces with vaulted brick
Santa Maria della Scala thus does not lend itself to a univocal reading, and even though great artists
have left precious and rare testimonies within it, the vast edifice (350,000,000 cubic meters) is above
all a splendid synthesis of the city and its history. And this is precisely its particularity: it is a
container in which architecture, works of art and history tell of a life that has continued on without
interruption for a thousand years.
During ISWCS2005, on September 7, 2005 at 17:30, a free tour will be organized to visit the
historic part of Siena and to visit this museum.
Please reserve this tour with the registration form.
Other interesting places
Civic Museum of Siena.
The Music Academia: "Accademia Chigiana"
The palace that currently houses the Accademia Musicale Chigiana has a long, composite history. Towards the
middle of the twelfth century the noble Marescotti family built the tower that still stands at one end of
the building; their emblem, an eagle with spread wings, overlooks the three-mullioned windows of the
fašade even now. In 1506 the palace was purchased by one of the most important families of Siena, the
Piccolomini Mand˛li family, who undertook considerable modifications in its structure as well as in its
decoration. The palace was thus given the Renaissance aspect that it continues to conserve in some parts
(such as the courtyard and the upstairs loggia).
Districts of Siena (i.e., the "contrade")
There are 17 districts in Siena, each with their own flag.
The "Palio" race.
The Palio is a horse race made by the districts (i.e., the "contrade") twice a year: July 2 in honor of the
local Madonna of Provenzano and August 16 in honor of the Assumption of the Virgin. The Palio is blood.
It is long-standing rivalry and medieval pageant. This horse race is the heart and soul of Siena: the
Palio lasts one minute, but this minute is the culmination of a whole year's hopes and preparations.
Feasts and processions featuring spectacular flag-waving the day before the race. More processions are held
on the day of the race, and each horse is taken to a church where it is solemnly blessed. The Palio itself
begins with an elaborate procession in the Campo, in which the quasi-totemic symbols of the individual
contrade, the city, and the glorious history of the Siena Republic are presented.
Last updated: 24 May 05