Pistoia: Madonna dell’Umiltà

Pistoia is sometimes called ‘little Florence’. The basilica of the Madonna dell’Umiltà may be largely held responsible for that nickname. It has a dome that closely resembles the famous dome that Brunelleschi built for the Duomo of Florence. Rather unsurprisingly, the dome in Pistoia was designed and built by a…

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Pistoia: Sant’Andrea

We were confronted with two issues when we wanted to visit the church of Sant’Andrea in August of last year: limited opening hours and an admission charge. This may be the standard arrangement, but it may also have been linked to the global COVID-19 crisis. In any case, the first…

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Pistoia: The Duomo

The cathedral of Pistoia is a splendid Romanesque-style building of which the history goes back to the tenth century. The present building dates mostly from the twelfth century, as a fire that broke out in 1108 necessitated a rebuilding. In the next couple of centuries many more changes were made…

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Siena: The Crypt

“A descent into the world of colour takes you into the heart of the Cathedral to the place popularly known as the “Crypt”, one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the past twenty years.” The website of the Opera della Metropolitana di Siena uses roaring language to open a…

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Siena: The Duomo

My first visit to Siena was in 2010. It was a rainy day and we got lost on the way to the city centre (which is quite an achievement: Siena is not that big). We had lunch at a mediocre restaurant that served factory-made tiramisu, which really should be a…

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Siena: Libreria Piccolomini

The Piccolominis were a prominent and influential family from Siena. Their influence was not confined to the city itself: two of the family’s most famous members became popes. Enea Silvio Piccolomini (1405-1464) was elected Pope Pius II in 1458 and held that position until his death in 1464. His nephew…

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