The inlaid marble floor of the Cathedral of Siena is entirely visible until July 31 and from August 18 to October 28, 2018
The floor – “the most beautiful … largest and most magnificent … that ever was made” in the famous words of Giorgio Vasari – is the fruit of a plan that took on concrete form through the centuries, from the XIV century up to the XVIII century. The preparatory cartoons for the fifty-six panels were done by important artists, all from Siena, except for the Umbrian painter Bernardino di Betto, known as Pinturicchio who in 1505 authored the panel with the Hill of Wisdom. The techniques employed to transfer the ideas of the various artists onto the floor are marble intarsia and graffito.
But this year you could see the floor with a new way of reading, that illuminates the marble carpet with unusual color effects.
The floor will shine with new light thanks to a project by Opera Civita that, together with the Opera della Metropolitana, has contributed to the enhancement of the floor, to make it known to the whole world: the “wonder” of the city of Siena, as the Anglo-Saxon artists and travelers had sensed. In the late nineteenth century press the well-known marble carpet is defined as The Wonder of Siena, which attests to the fame and appreciation by the “foreigners” in the vision of “fermented polychrome” (Henry James).