Floored in Siena – one of Tuscany’s best secrets uncovered

Say hello to 'Hellespontine Sibyl' by Neroccio di Bartolomeo de' Landi in Siena's Duomo

Visit Italy and you may think there are more interesting things to look at than the ground*.

But in one church, in one stunning Tuscan town, on just a few days each year, you may just be mistaken.

Looking up, there are the amazing towers of Tuscany to see in hilltop towns like San Gimignano and Siena, the great buildings to gaze up at, awe inspired, such as inside the Duomo of Florence and of course, the most famous ceiling in the world in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel in Rome.

But from the 18th August to the 27th October, it is well worth lowering your gaze to see one of the most spectacular pavements you will ever have the privilege of seeing.

Detail from the Duomo of Siena in Tuscany

Normally covered by not-so-worth-seeing cardboard to protect it from people stepping atop, the stunning pavement of Siena’s marble-inlayed scenic pieces will be on display for this short time.

Outside, the Duomo of Siena is spectacular.

Siena's amazing Duomo (cathedral) - photo by Softeis.

Looking up inside the Duomo of Siena can actually make your head spin, what with the incredible black and white marble pillars that reach up to the extraordinary heights of the ornate ceiling. The walls are lined with great art masterpieces to add to the overwhelming splendour of this cathedral.

Unlike most floors which have geometric designs that give perspective to the interior, the Siena cathedral features scenes from the bible, from Siena’s rich history as well as sibyls, with a total of 59 marble pieces in all, each painstakingly inlayed or etched between 1372 to 1547.

Artists known to have worked on the designs include Beccafumi (who created a mighty 35 of the works over 30 years in the mid-1500’s), Domico di Bartolo, Punturicchio and Matteo di Giovanni. Throughout the year, only a few of these tiles are visible in a special roped-off area of the cathedral.

During Siena’s famous horserace, the Palio, more of the great art works in Tuscany are uncovered.

If you would like to see visit Siena from Florence, and see the stunning Tuscan countryside for yourself (and really, who wouldn’t?), we have a small-group Best of Tuscany tour visiting Siena, San Gimignano and Monteriggioni, and stopping for lunch and wine tasting at an award-winning wine estate. See the views of Tuscany in one spectacular day highlights tour from Florence in the Best of Tuscany small-group tour.

A great afternoon activity offering wonderful views, including a visit a Tuscan villa can be had on the Taste of Tuscany at the Villa wine tour. Explore the historic wine estate before undertaking a wine tasting. Tread through the terrain, enjoying spectacular views of the Tuscan countryside up-close and personal.

If you are a morning person (or at least jet lag is making you so!), you will enjoy our wonderful stroll through the Tuscan countryside,  join us for a Perfect Morning in Tuscany small-group walking tour. Leaving from Florence’s city centre and heading to the surrounding countryside, this small-group walking tour includes, well, walking in Tuscany, as well as lunch with wine at a stunning Renaissance Villa Estate, accompanied by an expert tour guide.

If you are looking for some other great things to do in Tuscany to enjoy local cuisine, explore the Tuscan countryside in a small group,  taste Tuscan wine and the like, we have a great range of small-group Tuscany tours.

To explore other areas of Italy, can check out our Artviva Walking Tours website to read more about the tours we have to offer in Florence, RomeVeniceCinque Terre, Umbria, Naples, Pompeii and more. We also have a great range of fantastic private tours that cater to your every desire. From Florence (and Tuscany) to RomeVenice to the Cinque Terre and beyond, we are at your beck and call.


* Although with the rough-hewn cobblestones, charming as they are, we do always advise watching your step!

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