Siena Cathedral uncovered floor tour
Wisdom Mount scene
Slaughter of the Inocentes
Tour duration: 1/2/3 hours
Suitable for children: yes
Different abled accessibility: yes
Difference in level: 0/50 metres
Further information at the bottom of the page(or click here)
The uncovered floor of Siena Cathedral
Siena Cathedral uncovered floor tour is an unmissable opportunity not only to admire a jewel of Sienese art but also to enjoy the vision of a rare work of its kind.
Also this year the long-awaited days of uncovering the floor of the Siena Cathedral return from June 27th to July 31st and then again from August 18th to October 18th 2022.
For those who are aware of this event for the first time, this ‘marble carpet’ is an extraordinary set of fifty-six squares that cover the entire ground of the Duomo and were almost entirely made using the marble commesso technique (marquetry). The whole work, however, is not only a delight for the eyes but also represents an extraordinary iconographic cycle of particular thematic complexity. Through the tour we retrace almost all the fifty-six panels, meeting figures such as Hermes Trismegistus, the ten Sibyls of the ancient canon, Moses and the Stories of the Exodus, the Stories of Elijah and Acab, David the Psalmist and the Stories of Abraham.
La figura di Ermete Trismegisto
The most “beautiful … that had ever been done”
The floor of the Siena Cathedral, the most “beautiful …, large and magnificent … that had ever been done” according to the historian and architect Giorgio Vasari, was built starting from the second half of the fourteenth century and was completed in the first half of the sixteenth century . Its execution involved the major artists working in Siena during the Renaissance, such as Giovanni di Stefano known as Sassetta, Antonio Federighi, Matteo di Giovanni, Pintoricchio and Domenico Beccafumi.
These personalities have left important artistic testimonies in the city, both in painting and in sculpture.
Not a simple decorated floor
What is extraordinary in this work is that the representations visible are not merely decorative, but rather historiated, that is, in almost every inlay there is the representation of figures which, in some cases, go to compose real scenes which refer to episodes from the Old and New Testament; other of these splendid images are pagan figures that reflect the ancient Canon of the Sibyls, as described in some authoritative texts by Christian authors such as Lactantius, a rhetorician who lived between the third and fourth centuries AD.
Pagan figures in a Christian place
What are the Sibyls, figures linked to the pagan world, doing in a Christian place?
Well, to many people the presence of the Sibyls in a church will certainly not surprise, since it is a lore already widely attested in the Middle Ages and which in the Cathedral of Siena already had an illustrious precedent: the Pulpit by Nicola Pisano, where the statues of the Sibyls surmount the straight frames. from the granite columns.
Alcune delle tarsie del pavimento
Facciata del Duomo di Siena
Sibyls, female priests of the pagane antiquity
On the other hand, what is undoubtedly very fascinating in the Floor of the Duomo of Siena is to see that each of the ten Sibyls, represented in the side aisles of the church, is accompanied by a table – to be precise two for each – with inscriptions in Latin. Eminent scholars, such as Marilena Caciorgna and Roberto Guerrini – authors of an important essay entirely dedicated to the floor – have deeply studied the meaning of these inscriptions; the result is the messages that we find here are semantically and literally concatenating: therefore what for example is announced by the Cumaean Sibyl ideally continues in the message engraved in the table of Cumaean, the next Sibyl. The Siena Cathedral uncovered floor tour has as its focal moment the reading of the figures of the Sibyls.
This setting suggests the Siena Cathedral uncovered floor is a real path that must be followed. Starting from the central portal of the Cathedral – where an inscription invites us to have a particular ‘physical’ and ‘spiritual’ condition before entering the “most chaste temple” – the path winds thematically along the side aisles, to then return to the centre and then continues in the area of the dome and finally of the altar.
Deciphering the secrets of this masterpiece
The beautiful subjects represented in the fifty-six inlays are not, however, easy to understand: the inscriptions are almost all in Latin, some figures are difficult to read because they are worn by time and faithful wear and tear, some scenes have very crowded compositions. This is why the most appropriate way to contemplate this masterpiece is through the Siena Cathedral floor tour.
Do not miss the opportunity to appreciate all the beauty and iconographic complexity of this extraordinary work; you will thus be able to fully understand the messages that are hidden behind the inscriptions that accompany the Sibyls, or decipher the meaning of some objects or gestures that we find inside the inlays, such as the books stacked in the image of one of the Ten Sibyls, or the unusual representation of a man hanging from a tree and being pierced by the spears of some soldiers.
Siena Cathedral floor tour will be the experience that will allow you to take with you the memory of a jewel of art and literature that is almost never visible.
Vista del pavimento dalla “Porta del Cielo”
Video with explanation of David the psalmist inlay (eng sub available)
David Psalmist Inlay
Important information about the tour (click here)
This tour can also be booked in combination with the other tours and hiking trails available on Siena and Florence, which can be consulted in the Menu.
The activity here proposed, in english language, is a private and not a joinable tour; this means that it is a tour only carried out on request and can be customised for starting time, meeting place and duration, depending on the customer’s needs.
Duration of Siena Cathedral floor private guided tour
The duration of the private tour to the floor of the Cathedral of Siena is 1 hour and can be extended to 1 hour and a half if client wants to see the other works in the Cathedral together with the guide, such as the Piccolomini Library, the Chapel of San Giovanni, the Chapel of the Vow, the Pulpit by Nicola Pisano. The visit can be extended to 2 and a half hours if, together with the guide, client also wants to visit with the guide the Crypt, the Opera del Duomo Museum and the Baptistery. Tour can be extended up to 3 hours if client wants to visit the Gate of Heaven with a guide as well.
Radio rental compulsory from 6 people onwards
From 6 people onwards, to facilitate listening to the guide explanations and ensuring social distancing outdoors and indoors, it is strictly recommended to rent radio devices with transmitters that ensure perfect listening to the explanations of the guide even from a distance; since in this tour we visit the inside of the monuments, the rental of radios is compulsory for 4 or more people. The service is booked by the guide when the guided tour is requested, but the rental cost, which is € 1.00 per person for 2 or 3 hours, is charged to the customer and can be paid directly to the guide who will then take care to pay the supplier.
Carers or teachers of school groups do not pay for the rental of the radio.
How to visit the Porta del Cielo
The visit to the Gate of Heaven lasts half an hour and must be booked in advance (at the ticket office at least half an hour before the desired time, or online by purchasing the cumulative ticket that includes all the sites of the Duomo complex + the Gate of Heaven).
Take notice: The visit to the Gate of Heaven is strongly not recommended for people suffering from heart disease or dizziness.
Opening time of the Siena Cathedral:
Opening time of the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo:
Opening time of the Porta del Cielo:
Siena Cathedral ticket price
Ticket prices during the Cathedral uncovered floor time
From June 27th to July 31st
From August 18th to October 18th
For groups and schools of more than 14 people
The cost of the entrance ticket to the Cathedral or to the other museums (in the event you want to visit them) is not included in the tour rate. The access to the Basilica of San Domenico is for free.
The guide does not provide transportation service.
To get further information, to book the tour or to get the contact of a licensed driver providing private transfer service, please write to:
firstname.lastname@example.org, also by Whatsapp o Telegram
Cost and reservation of the tour (click here)
Cost of the Siena Cathedral floor private guided tour
The cost for a 1 hour private guided tour is € 60.00 (price in total and not per person), for 1 hour and a half € 90.00 (always price in total and not per person). The cost for 2 and a half hours (up to 3 hours) is € 150.00.
For further information about the rates, also to check the deals available, please visit the dedicated section by clicking here.
How to book the tour?
The tour can be booked by writing an email, calling at +393332591526 or texting the guide (also via Whatsapp or Telegram) to check availability for the requested day.
Once the day and time of the tour have been agreed with the guide, to book it is necessary to advance 50% of the tour value with a deposit to be paid by credit card.
Attention: pay the deposit only after agreed the date and the details of the tour with the guide. The remaining payment of the guided tour takes place after the tour by card, in cash or by bank transfer.
It is the responsibility of the guide to guarantee the guide service in any case. If, even for personal reasons, the guide is unable to perform the service in the date set with the client, it will be his concern to contact a trusted colleague who can replace him and therefore guarantee the customer service.
The cancellation of the tour from the client can be done free of charge by giving timely notice to the guide before 48 hours from the date and time agreed for the service. In this case the deposit paid in advance by the customer will be returned by the guide. If instead cancellation is made by the customer when there are less than 48 hours before the date agreed for the service, the customer will lose the deposit paid.
Cancellation can be made by promptly communicating it to the guide with via email, calling the number +393332591526 or by texting (also via Whatsapp or Telegram).
How to reach Siena? (click here)
Reachable via the A1 motorway (Siena-Bettolle exit if coming from Rome; Florence-Impruneta exit if coming from Milan; then continue towards Siena with the Bettolle-Siena or Florence-Siena junction. Free and paying car parks are close to the Fortezza. The free car park spaces with white stripes are located along Viale Vittorio Veneto. Paying car parks, blue stripes, are located in Via Fruschelli (€ 1.50 hourly rate), or in the Stadio area (hourly rate € 2.00), the latter available in the days when no football matches are held.
Other car parks available close to the Cathedral are “Il Campo“, near Porta Tufi (hourly rate 2.00 €) and “Il Duomo“, near Porta San Marco (always 2.00 hourly rate).
By public Bus
|To get to Siena by public bus there are connections from Florence with rapid extra-urban lines (line 131). See the timetables of the FLORENCE-SIENA LINE. Check the timetables of the SIENA-FLORENCE RETURN LINE. Bus tickets can be purchased on the Autolinee toscane website, at retailers such as tobacco shops and newsstands or at the automatic columns near the bus stops.|
Siena can be reached by train with the Trenitalia service, thanks to the regional lines. Once you arrive at the Siena railway station, you can reach the historic centre:
By urban bus
(Lines 520, 530, 706). For a real-time consultation, visit the Autolinee toscane website.
Taking the Camollia automatic electric escalator and then from there enter the historic centre from Porta Camollia.
By Taxi service
Available with positions in front of the train station or contactable at the number +39057749222, sending a message at the number +393483892305 indicating:
Organised groups/squadrons by tourist coach
|For organised groups/squadrons by tourist coach, there are drop-off/drop-on points for passengers in the urban centre of Siena (click here to view the points). Tourist coaches are subject to the payment of a checkpoint (further information by clicking here).|
By camper van
|Camper owners find rest areas around the historic centre. The closest one is in the area called Fagiolone. This is an equipped area with video surveillance (daily rate € 20.00; for more info click here. Other parking areas are in Fontebecci and the Palasport Mensana area. Another equipped area is the Camping Siena Colleverde.|