An authoritative, richly illustrated history, and affectionate celebration, of Siena, one of the best-loved and most-visited cities in Italy.
Occupying a hilltop site in the midst of a vast, undulating landscape – between the wine-producing region of Chianti to the north and the truffle-filled woods of the Crete Senesi to the south – Siena is as much a magnet for contemporary tourism as Florence.
However, its proud republican past presents an intriguing contrast with its Medici-dominated northern Tuscan rival, with which it tussled for local supremacy for much of the High Middle Ages. From the twelfth century, profiting from its advantageous position on a major pilgrim route, the Republic of Siena developed into a major European power and remained an important commercial, financial and artistic centre for four centuries.
Jane Stevenson tells the story of how the city rose to its astonishingly productive cultural heyday in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries before suffering a catastrophic late medieval decline in the aftermath of the Black Death. But she also reveals how it transcended this early loss of power to enjoy a prosperous civic afterlife and cherished position as a uniquely well-preserved medieval city, crammed with world-class art and architecture, furnished with appealing and intriguing traditions, and set in a heavenly landscape.