Ghibelline Siena. In 1230 Florence besieged Siena and catapulted dung and donkeys over
its walls. Siena's revenge came at the Battle of Montaperti in 1260, when it decisively de-
feated its rival, but victory was short-lived. Only 10 years later, the Tuscan Ghibellines
were defeated by Charles of Anjou and Siena was forced to ally with Florence, the chief
town of the Tuscan Guelph League.
In the ensuing century, Siena was ruled by the Consiglio dei Nove (Council of Nine), a
bourgeois group constantly bickering with the feudal nobles. It enjoyed its greatest
prosperity during this time, and the Council commissioned many of the fine buildings in
the Sienese-Gothic style that give the city its striking appearance, including lasting monu-
ments such as the duomo (cathedral), Palazzo Comunale and Piazza del Campo.
The Sienese school of painting also had its origins at this time and reached its peak in
the early 14th century, when artists such as Duccio di Buoninsegna and Ambrogio Loren-
zetti were at work.
A plague outbreak in 1348 killed two-thirds of Siena's 100,000 inhabitants and led to a
period of decline that culminated in the city being handed over to Florence's Cosimo I de'
Medici, who barred the inhabitants from operating banks and thus severely curtailed its
This centuries-long economic downturn in the wake of the Medici takeover was a bless-
ing in disguise, as lack of funds meant that its city centre was subject to very little re-
development or new construction. In WWII, the French took Siena virtually unopposed,
sparing it discernible damage. All of this has led to the historic centre's listing on Un-
esco's World Heritage list as the living embodiment of a medieval city.
Piazza del Campo
This sloping piazza, popularly known as Il Campo, has been Siena's civic and social
centre since being staked out by the Consiglio dei Nove in the mid-12th century. It was
built on the site of a former Roman marketplace, and its pie-piece paving design is di-
vided into nine sectors to represent the number of members of the council.
Piazza del Campo) in the upper part of the square. These days the fountain's panels are repro-