Piccolomini Library (Libreria Piccolomini)
The Piccolomini Library was built in the 1400s by Pope Pius III to house the manuscripts of his uncle, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, who was also Pope Pius II. Most of the manuscripts never made it here, and instead you can view its extraordinary frescoes, painted by Pinturicchio between 1503 and 1508 and depicting important stages of the life of Pope Pius II.
You can best appreciate the frescoes in the Piccolomini library on a guided tour of the Siena duomo complex, including skip-the-line tickets to the Piccolomini Library, along with the cathedral, crypt, baptistry (Battistero di San Giovanni), and Museo dell'Opera. The cathedral complex is a highlight of Siena’s historic center and is included on many walking tours or on day trips from Florence to Siena, Pisa, and San Gimignano.
Things to Know Before You Go
Wear comfortable shoes as tours of the Piccolomini Library and duomo complex require a significant amount of time on your feet.
Dress in modest attire covering shoulders and knees to enter the cathedral, crypt, and baptistery.
While the Piccolomini Library and cathedral are accessible to wheelchair users, the crypt, baptistery, and museum are not.
Photography without flash is allowed inside the library.
How to Get There
The Siena Duomo complex, including the Piccolomini Library, is located on Piazza Duomo in Siena’s pedestrian-only historic center and can only be reached on foot.
When to Get There
Siena's cathedral has a marble mosaic inlay and graffito floor hidden beneath a protective covering except for a few weeks each summer. The duomo complex gets crowded when the floors are revealed, so avoid visiting then unless you arrive specifically to view the floors in addition to the library.
Highlights of Pinturicchio’s Piccolomini Library Frescoes
Pinturicchio’s frescoes are remarkable for the details of the historic and allegorical figures depicted, including sumptuous clothing, ornate interiors, and realistic landscapes. The walls are decorated with 10 panels representing key episodes in the life of Pope Pius II: as ambassador to the European courts; paying homage to the new emperor and pope; presenting Eleonora of Aragon to Emperor Frederick III; being named cardinal; and finally becoming pope.
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