Brief History and Demographics
of Siena for Travelers to Livorno Cruise Port
- Siena’s Origins, Roman Rule, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Napoleonic Rule,
Modern Times, Time Line, Famous Personalities, Trivial Curiosities, Geography.
Siena’s Origins and Roman Rule
Legend has it that Siena was founded by Romulus’s son named Senius. Archaeologists and historians believe, however, that Siena was first established by the Etruscans between 900 and 400 BC.
Map by Matheus Merian CC-by-SA
The Etruscans named the city Sena, introduced irrigation to the region, and built forts. After the Etruscans, some historians believe that the Gauls controlled Siena for a time. The Romans built a settlement called Saena Julia on the site of the Etruscan city during the reign of Emperor Augustus somewhere around 70 AD. It is Saena Julia that became modern day Siena. The city did not prosper under Roman rule, however, because it was far away from major roads. Trade and innovation missed the city entirely.
Middle Ages and Renaissance
It was not until the Lombards took control of Siena in the 4th century that the city began to prosper and innovate. Byzantine raids on the traditional Roman roads led traders to reroute through Siena, making it an important trading post.
In 774, Charlemagne took Siena away from the Lombards, which brought in a large population of Franks who married into the wealthy Sienese families who governed over feudal Siena. Feudalism in the area ended, however, in 1115 and Siena broke up into small autonomous regions.
Siena’s prosperity only grew with the new arrangement, and it prospered until the mid-1300s. During this time, the city became an important part of the wool trade and a money lending center. Buildings (including the Duomo) were constructed, improvements made, and the city as it is known today began to take shape. A rival to Florence during the 13th and 14th centuries, the plague swept Siena in 1348 to devastating effect and the city never recovered.
Napoleonic Rule and Modern Siena
Siena, like all the other cities in the area, came under Napolen’s rule, which lasted until 1859. After Napoleon was ousted, the Austrians ruled the city before they met defeat at the hands of the Franco-Piedmont army. In 1861, Siena joined the newly united Kingdom of Italy.
History - Time Line
1st century CE - Saena Julia founded by Romans.
1205 - Building of Palazzo Tolomei.
1255 - Building of Basilica of San Francesco.
1260 - Battle of Montaperti.
1263 - Building of Siena Cathedral.
1265 - Building of Basilica of San Domenico.
1308 - Building of Palazzo Pubblico.
1348 - Black Death plague, building of Torre del Mangia.
1419 - Building of Fonte Gaia.
1423 - Council of Siena begins.
1438 - Building of Loggia della Mercanzia.
1463 - Building of Palazzo Piccolomini.
1472 - Foundation of the Monte dei Paschi di Siena. Building of Palazzo Spannocchi.
1484 - Printing press in operation.
1504 - Renovation of Santo Spirito.
1506 - Renovation of Palazzo Chigi-Saracini.
1533 - Santa Maria dei Servi consecrated.
1554 - Battle of Marciano.
1555 - Republic of Siena surrenders to Spain and is ceded to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
1613 - Renovation of San Martino.
1656 - Palio di Siena horse race begins.
1816 - Foundation of the Fine Arts Institution.
1856 - Laying of Orto Botanico dell'Università di Siena.
1557 - Philip II of Spain ceded Siena to the city of Florence
1861 - Siena was integrated into the new kingdom of Italy .
1865 - Empoli-Siena railway begins operating.
1901 - Population: 25,539.
1932 - Foundation of the Accademia Musicale Chigiana. Inauguration of Pinacoteca Nazionale.
1944 - Bombing by Allies - Siena was not affected physically by the World Wars
1995 - Opening of the Santa Maria della Scala Museum.
Duccio di Buoninsegna (1255-1319) - the first great Sienese painter, and he is to the Sienese School, what Giotto was to the Florentine. He was the true founder of the Sienese school, with a style influenced by French Gothic and inspired by oriental and Byzantine elements.
Simone Martini (1284-1344) a Sienese painter, the pupil of Duccio, who developed the use of outline for the sake of linear rhythm, as well as the sophisticated color harmonies implicit in Duccio.
Saint Catherine of Siena (1347 - 1380), the patron saint of Italy and one of the patron saints of Europe, who was born in the contrada of Oca (goose)
Jacopo della Quercia (sculptor, 1361-1438), one of the earliest Italian Renaissance sculptors, noted for his fountain in the piazza del Campo of Siena, the Fonte Gaia (1419, now in Palazzo Pubblico, Siena) which has been replaced by a copy.
Duomo: Siena wanted to have one of the biggest cathedrals built in Europe but had to stop the building in 1348 due to the plague.
Banking: Siena is home to the oldest bank in history named Monte dei Paschi, which was established in 1472.
Chianti: Near Siena there is a famous area called, Chianti with gentle slopes and good wine and was invaded by the Beautiful British People.
Contrade: Siena is divided into 17 “contrades', that means 'little boroughs,' or “hometowns” which have their own traditions and colors. They have fierce rivalry among each other.
Palio: A crazy horse race in which riders ride without a saddle, is run twice a year (July and August) called, “Palio” and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Siena is the capital of one of the 10 provinces of Tuscany, corresponds to the former Republic of Siena and lies on its south east border. It borders the following provinces: Florence, Arezzo, Perugia, Terni, Viterbo, Grosseto and Pisa.
Population: 271,000 inhabitants
Area: 3,820 sqkm (1,266 sq miles)
The Province is subdivided in 6 "Frazioni": Isola d'Arbia, San Giovanni, San Martino, Sant'Andrea a Montecchio, Taverne d'Arbia and Volte Basse.
118,53 sq km
(45.76 sq miles)
Approximately 56,000 residents
456 / sqkm
(1,200 / sq miles)
Industry:Agriculture, Confectionery, biotechnology, banking.
Tourism:Walking tours and guided tours around the city to see the beautiful architecture and monuments. Day tours from Florence and Shore Excursions from Livorno
Commerce:Export of wine (Chianti)
Saint Catherine of Siena
Saint day: April 29