Siena cathedral's famed floor to be on show again

350,000 came to see it last summer

Siena cathedral's famed floor to be on show again

Siena, July 12 - The magnificent ornate marble flooring that embellishes the main cathedral of the Tuscan town of Siena will be visible to the public for another two-month period this summer after the "huge success" of last year's opening, officials said Friday. The floor, described by 16th-century art historian Giorgio Vasari as the "most beautiful, biggest and most magnificent ever created", will go on display from August 18 to September, they said. Some 350,000 visitors enjoyed the unprecedented access to the Renaissance wonder last summer. Under normal circumstances, the inlaid mosaic floor of the Duomo di Siena is hidden from sight and protected by wooden planks to ensure it is not scuffed or damaged by the million and more visitors that walk into the church each year. The floor, which is unique in Italy, extends throughout the whole of the cathedral. It took some 500 years to create, with local workmen including mainly Siena-native artists toiling on it from the 1300s to the 1800s. Those that participated in its creation included well-known Sienese art masters Sassetta, Domenico di Bartolo, Matteo di Giovanni and Domenico Beccafumi, as well as the famed painter Pinturicchio from the nearby region of Umbria. For the special summer openings visitors are permitted to walk along a well-defined route, taking them around the church to admire the hexagon shapes under the cupola, the mosaics close to the altar and many other characteristics that the floor boasts underneath the stunning Domenico Beccafumi frescos that decorate the cathedral.

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