Your personal driver will collect you from Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport in Rome and take you on a tour of Siena and Pisa, two wonderful Tuscan cities of art. During the drive to Siena on the A1 highway, you can stop and have a coffee break at an Autogrill. The drive is about 2 hours and 40 minutes.
Siena is situated on three hills in the center of Tuscany, and between three rivers, the Arbia, Elsa and Merse. As you approach the city you will see the beautiful terracotta color of the rooftops and will follow the medieval walls that circle the city. The road that takes you from Rome to Siena leads you to Porta Romana. The doors that enter the city walls are Porta Camollia leading towards Florence and Porta San Marco heading towards Grosseto.
Siena was at the height of its importance in 1260 with the victory of the Battle of Montaperti, where the Sienese defeated the Florentines. This important historic fact about the Tuscan city is the theme to Dante Alighieri’s X° Canto of The Inferno. It is said that the Palio of Siena, the city’s most important event that occurs on the 16th of August (Palio dell’Assunta) and the 2nd of July (Palio to honor the Madonna of Provenzano) was born as a celebration of thanks to the Virgin for this victory. The Palio is a horserace in which the jockeys, dressed in medieval clothes, ride bareback around the Piazza del Campo.
After a period of decline and intense fighting between the nobles of the city, the Consiglio dei Nove (Council of Nine) was established in 1287 and remained in power until 1355. During this period some of the most important monuments were created, which you can take the time to explore. Above all, you should visit the Piazza del Campo where the Palio takes place. This square was built at the foot of the three hillsides in a fishbone pattern and its beautiful redbrick pavement is divided into nine sections. The Palazzo Pubblico (town hall), constructed between the XIII and XIV centuries, is located in the piazza and contains the Comune and the Museo Civico. The numerous rooms of these buildings house frescoes painted by artists from the Sienese School: Duccio da Buoninsegna, Ambrogio and Piero Lorenzetti and Simone Martini. Of particular importance are the Maestà(Virgin Enthroned) and the Guidoriccio da Fogliano that can be found in the Great Council Hall (Sala del Mappamondo). In front of the Palazzo Pubblico is the Fonte Gaia (Fountain of Joy), decorated with bas-reliefs—copies of the originals sculpted by Jacopo della Quercia that are now kept in the Palazzo Pubblico. The magnificent Torre del Mangia, 102 meters high, can be seen on the right side of the Palazzo. From the courtyard you can climb to the top of the tower and admire the magnificent panorama of the city and the hills that surround it.
From the Piazza del Campo, travelling along the Via di Città and then the Via Capitano, you arrive in the Piazza del Duomo. The cathedral (1150-1376) has a beautiful facade of white, greenish-black and red marble in the Roman-Gothic floral style. Inside it contains several important works of art, including statues by Michelangelo, Bernini, Donatello, as well as the pulpit constructed by Nicola and Giovanni Pisano, and their assistant Arnolfo di Cambio. The bell tower, Campanile (1317-1325), is a work of exceptional quality, and the Fonte Battesimale (baptismal font) is decorated with bronze images by Donatello, Ghiberti and Jacopo della Quercia.
For lunch you can enjoy Sienese specialties in a restaurant or osteria in the city center. After lunch we leave for a two-hour drive towards Pisa.
Arriving at Pisa you will drive directly to the city’s most famous attraction: the Campo dei Miracoli (Field of Miracles). Here you will find the symbol of the city, one of the most important artistic buildings in the world: the Torre di Pisa (the Leaning Tower of Pisa). You can visit and climb the tower in order to admire the city from above. The Campo dei Miracoli was the heart of the religious life for the people of Pisa. Not only does it have the leaning tower, or campanile (bell tower), but it also contains the Duomo di Santa Maria dell’Assunta (the cathedral), the Battistero di San Giovanni Battista (the baptistery) and the Camposanto (cemetery). The cathedral is a work of art in the Pisan Romanesque style of architecture (1064-1118), luxuriously decorated, and representing the prestige that the former Republic Marinara of Pisa had achieved in the XII century. Inside, the coffered (geometric wood paneled) ceiling is painted in gold and the apse has an impressive mosaic calledCristo in Maestà (Christ in Majesty) completed by San Giovanni da Cimabue in 1302. It miraculously survived the fire of 1595. Take note of the beautiful pulpit that was elaborately carved by Giovanni Pisano (1302-1310).
The construction of the Baptistery began in 1152 and is the largest in Italy. Inside you can admire the octagonal font at the heart of the baptistery that was constructed by Guido Bigarelli da Como. In the center of the font is the bronze sculpture of St John the Baptist. Nicola Pisano sculpted the pulpit. The Campo Santo monumentale (monumental cemetery) is Pisa’s antique cemetery. Inside can be found sarcophagi, Roman sculptures, tombs of illustrious people and the remarkable fresco Trionfo della Morte (The Triumph of Death) by Buonamico Buffalmacco that dates from around 1336. You can continue your tour of Pisa by visiting the Piazza dei Cavalieri, (Knight’s Square) which was the political center in medieval times. Here you will find the Palazzo dell’Orologio with its celebrated Torre del Conte Ugolino. The Palazzo della Carovana, which houses the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa, was founded by Napoleon in 1810. Here you will also find the Chiesa dell’Ordine dei Cavalieri di Santo Stefano and other celebrated historical buildings. You can then walk along the medieval Borgo Stretto arriving at the Lungarni (the streets that run alongside the banks of the river Arno) and the Ponte di Mezzo (Middle Bridge) over the river Arno. Crossing the bridge you will find the Logge dei Banchi where events such as fairs and gastronomic markets can often be found, as well as festivities at Christmas. You can finish you visit by shopping on the Corso Italia and either return to Rome by rental car or limousine, or stay the night in Pisa.
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