Editor’s Note: Following a Ferragosto break, Siena Cathedral’s floors will be opened to visitors again beginning August 18.
In celebration of Expo Milano 2015, Siena will open some of its rarely seen treasures for the duration of the summer: the floors of the Duomo di Siena.
The intricately designed marble floors are normally covered and opened to tourists briefly once a year. This year, the opening will be extended for the entire month of July and throughout part of the fall.
The floors were a masterpiece in progress for multiple centuries, spanning from the 1300s to the 1800s. A handful of famous, and principally local, artists contributed to their design and construction, including Domenico di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni and Domenico Beccafumi.
Beccafumi contributed to the technical aspects of the art, introducing the technique of chiaroscuro by choosing marble in varying shades of similar colors, rather than an array of brightly colored stone.
Vasari, famed artist and writer, described the pavement as “the most beautiful…great and magnificent” ever made.
The art is not only open to the public because of its beauty but also for its correlation with the Expo’s theme of nurturing and sustaining the planet. One of the friezes in the church, another work by Beccafumi, showcases a biblical scene from the books of Exodus and Numbers depicting Moses striking a rock to produce a stream of water. This stream of water can be interrupted as salvation through Christ and reflects on the overarching concept of life and nature.
To enhance your visit, audio/video guides are available, using new technology to offer a comprehensive tour of the floors.
The floors will be open from July 1 to 31, 2015, and then again from August 18 to October 27, 2015. Tickets range from 4 to 20 euro depending on what parts of the cathedral you visit.