Siena‘s relationship with the Virgin Mary has been and continues to be a guiding thread in the history of the city and had its definitive consecration in 1260, the year of the famous battle of Montaperti, in which the Sienese bent the Florentine troops, which were militarily stronger. On the eve of the battle, the citizens gathered in the Cathedral to pray to the Virgin, offering her the keys to the city and invoking her protection. The Municipality also made the annual donation of candles on the feast of the Assumption mandatory for the Lords of the subjugated lands, thus reaffirming the will to entrust them to the Madonna, protector of the city. This ceremony continues to be repeated today with the procession of Ceri and Censi, which takes place every year on the eve of the Assumption, in which representatives, today of the Municipality and of the Contrade, bring candles to the Cathedral to offer to the Celestial Patroness. Walking through the streets of the city, it happens to come across numerous street tabernacles dedicated to the Madonna. On 8 September each year, the feast of her birth, the children of the seventeen Contrade compete to embellish the tabernacle in their neighborhood with the most beautiful designs and festoons. This is a tradition very dear to the Sienese, which still contributes today to making love and devotion for their Protector always alive.
Many have written about Siena and its harmonious beauty, in all times, and it is difficult to invent new words to describe its charm, especially if you are not poets. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1995.
José Saramago, a Portuguese writer and Nobel Prize winner, was in love with the city and dedicated words that describe it with brushstrokes of deep emotion and passion.
“And here is Siena, the beloved, the city where my heart is truly pleased”. “The three hills on which it is built make it a city where there are no two equal roads, all contrary to submit to any geometry”. “This wonderful color, the color of the body browned by the sun, but that is also the color of the crust of the corn bread, this wonderful color goes from the stones to the road and to the roofs, softens the sunlight and erases the anxieties and fears from the face”.
“There can be nothing more beautiful than this city”. Piazza del Campo “a square inclined and curved like a shell, which the builders did not want to pave and remained so, as if it were a lap”.
“I look at the old palaces of Siena, ancient houses where I wish I could live one day, with a window of my own, overlooking the clay-colored roofs, the green shutters of the windows, as in the attempt to decipher where this secret comes from that Siena murmurs and that I will continue to hear, although I do not understand it, until the end of life”.