Starting yesterday August 18th, right after the Palio dell’Assunta and until October 27th the magnificent Cathedral of Siena “unveils” its extraordinary marble intarsia floor. The precious marble “carpet” is usually protected from being walked upon by visitors and the numerous worshippers who every day enter the sacred temple to pray, and is therefore not totally visible.  The floor is “the most beautiful …, largest and most magnificent” that ever was made, according to Vasari’s well-known definition.

The floor of the Cathedral is fruit of a complex iconographical plan that took on concrete form through the centuries, starting in the XIV century and lasting right up to the XIX century.  The technique employed is that of graffito and marble intarsia using local marble. The preparatory cartoons for the fifty-six panels were designed by important artists, almost all of them “Sienese”, including Sassetta, Domenico di BartoloMatteo di Giovanni, and Domenico Beccafumi, in addition to “foreign” painters like Pinturicchio from Umbria who, in 1505, authored the famous panel with The Hill of Wisdom, the symbolic portrayal of the way to Virtue as the attainment of inner peace.

In the nave and two aisles, the itinerary unfolds recounting themes from classical and pagan antiquity:  the She-wolf nursing Romulus and Remus, the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus, the ten Sibyls, the philosophers Socrates, Crates, Aristotle and Seneca.  The transept and choir instead narrate the story of the Hebrews, the episodes of salvation fulfilled and realised by the figure of Christ, constantly evoked and never represented in the floor depictions, but present on the altar that the artistic and spiritual itinerary converges towards.

In the period of the unveiling, visitors will also admire the part designed by Domenico Beccafumi who here perfected the technique of marble intarsia to the point of attaining results of light and shadow comparable to the chiaroscuro effects of drawing.  The hexagon beneath the dome is the location of the Stories of Elijah and Ahab, while the panels near the altar narrate the episodes of Moses making Water spring from the Rock, Stories of Moses on Mount Sinai, and The Sacrifice of Isaac.  Visitors will also be able to admire from close up the frescoes in the apse and the bronze angels set against the pilasters near the altar by Domenico Beccafumi, one of the most representative exponents of Mannerism.

After visiting the Cathedral, the visitor will have a better understanding of the words Cosima, wife of German composer Richard Wagner, wrote in her diary on August 21st 1880:  “I arrive in Siena around 10 am … visit to the Cathedral!  Richard, moved to tears, says that this is the strongest impression he has ever received from a building.  I wish I could hear the prelude to Parsifal beneath this dome!  In the midst of so many worries, a moment’s happiness:  having shared with Richard this rapture, a sentiment of gratitude for my destiny”. The available services include guided tours in various languages led by professionals who will accompany visitors to discover this extraordinary masterpiece.

The initiative is strongly desired by the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena and organised by Opera – Civita Group.


Cathedral of Siena: 18th August – 27th October 2019

+39 0577 286300 –


La Città del Cielo / The City of Celestial Sky

Siena (Tuscany, Italy) 8 May – 8 September 2019

This huge and high wall that, in the Sienese’s intent, was supposed to be the façade of a New Cathedral, an architectural dream, looks at the whole city. From the top, it will be possible to recognize the most significant “places” of the City, the one originated from the “Good Government“, with the invitation, once descended, to stop in the same spaces in which the Siene community recognizes itself, and live it intensely. The Facciatone, with its mighty foundations and its slight altitudes, ridge “in the dazzling radiance of its Marbles and bricks” (Mario Luzi), is the space in which Siena welds the City of Earth and the Celestial City in a single glance.

Introduction to the City from the Panorama of Facciatone.
Every day from 10 am to 7 pm
Special openings from 8 am to 10 am by reservation only

Info and booking:
Phone +39 0577 286300; mail

siena facciatone



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).



Photos: Courtesy of Opera – Civita Group, Press Office


The Cathedral of Siena re-opens its “Gate of Heaven( 1 March – 6 January 2015). Once again, from 1st March, visitors will be able to admire the very peak of the building. The visiting path, opened forthe first timelast spring,has allowed to admire venueseveropen to the publicandonly used bythe workmen directed by a succession of great architects who have followed one another during the centuries. After the large attendance of Italian and foreign public registered during the last extraordinary opening, the Rector of the Opera della Metropolitana, MarioLorenzoni, has promoted also forthis year, a re-openingof the Gate ofHeaven.

The visit starts with the magnificent façade of the Duomo, flanked by two majestic towers ending in many spirelike forms that shoot upwards.  In these towers, winding staircases, practically invisible to visitors, lead up to the ‘heavens’ of the Cathedral.  Above the starry vault of the right aisle begins an itinerary reserved to small groups accompanied by expert guides, which reserves a succession of discoveries and emotions.  Visitors will indeed walk ‘above’ the holy temple and admire fascinating views both ‘inside’ and ‘outside’ the Cathedral.  From the polychrome stained glass windows depicting the Apostles by Ulisse De Matteis, visitors will gaze down onto the floor and the principal sculptural monuments, and even inside the dome with its ‘Pantheon’ of Sienese saints, the four Patron Saints, Saint Catherine and Saint Bernardino, the golden ‘giants’ who from above protect the community of the faithful.  Then, from the balcony of the dome, they will contemplate the high altar, the copy of the stained glass window by Duccio di Buoninsegna with, in the centre, the mandorla of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, and masterpieces of sculpture.  From the left aisle, they will look out to admire a splendid panorama of the Basilica of San Domenico, the Medici Fortress, the entire dome of the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, and the surrounding countryside up to hills known as the Montagnola Senese.  Finally, they will enter behind the façade, at the balcony that looks out onto Piazza del Duomo and the view of the Spedale di Santa Maria della Scala, and enter the balcony on the counter-façade.  Here unfolds an overall view of the nave; the gaze scans the heads of popes and emperors, the intarsias with the philosophers of the ancient world uttering sentences.

The “gate of heaven” is opened to visitors as though they were climbing the ladder that appeared to Jacob in his dream, the top of which reached heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it (Genesis 28: 10-22).  In his dream, God promises Jacob the earth on which he has slept and an immense lineage.  When he rises, Jacob exclaims «This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven», a verse used by the liturgy of the mass in dedicating cathedrals.  In the Litany of Loreto, though, the ‘gate of heaven’ is also the Virgin Mary, a definition that best expresses her power and goodness.  As the Mother of Christ and of humanity, Mary contributes to our eternal salvation in Heaven where she is the ‘Queen assumed into Heaven’.  The visiting itinerary “from above” will thus permit visitors to better understand the dedication of the Cathedral of Siena to the Assumption of the Madonna, and the strong connection the people of Siena have had with their ‘patron’ for centuries:  Sena vetus civitas Virginis.

Strongly desired by the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena, the initiative is organised by Opera – Civita Group. Opera Civita Group manages the booking, information and guided tours services for the Cathedral of Siena complex and, for the extraordinary opening of the ‘Gate of Heaven’, proposes cultural packages that enrich the city’s touristic offer.

For more information, visit our website at:


1 March 2014 – 6 January 2015

Cathedral of Siena

Tickets (by reservation only)

Full:  € 25.00

Children up to 11 years old: € 7.00

Group:   € 400.00 (max 17 pax)

OPA SI PASS + (Museums and Attic of the Duomo) € 30.00

Ticket price includes the guided tour to the Attic of the Duomo and to the Cathedral

Information and Booking

Tel. +39 0577286300 (Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm)



Opera – Civita Group

Barbara Izzo – Arianna Diana

Salvatore La Spina