The Museo Civico, housed in Palazzo Pubblico on Piazza del Campo, is one of the most important museums in Siena, with a large collection of frescoes, paintings, and sculptures from the Sienese school and others. The most significant is Ambrogio Lorenzetti's massive 14th-century fresco cycle The Allegory of Good and Bad Government.
Palazzo del Pubblico has been Siena’s town hall since the 13th century, and its Museo Civico highlights works by the Sienese school. Dating from the late Middle Ages, these paintings and frescoes were some of the first to depict nonreligious themes, including government, justice, and patriotic devotion, in civic buildings. Other museum highlights include Simone Martini's Majesty (Maestà) altarpiece and Taddeo di Bartolo’s Life of the Madonna (Storie della Madonna).
Siena’s Museo Civico is a top attraction in the city center, so book skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid a wait. The museum is often included in walking tours of the historical center along with landmarks such as the Piazza del Campo, the Torre del Mangia tower, and Siena Cathedral (Duomo di Siena). Siena is a popular stop on day trips to the Chianti region of Tuscany from Florence and Rome, which may include stops in Pisa or San Gimignano, as well.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A visit to the Museo Civico is particularly fascinating for art history enthusiasts.
- The Museo Civico is accessible to wheelchair users.
- Piazza del Campo is pedestrian only, an ideal spot to let kids run off a bit of steam.
- You’ll want to capture the picturesque medieval center of Siena, so be sure to bring your camera.
- Tours of Siena require a fair bit of walking, so choose comfortable shoes and dress for the weather.
How to Get There
The Museo Civico, in Palazzo del Popolo, is located in Piazza del Campo in the center of Siena. Walk or take a city bus from the train station, or join a small-group or private tour that includes transportation.
When to Get There
The Civic Museum often closes during the annual Palio, held in July and August in Piazza del Campo. Avoid touring the city during these crowded days unless you are specifically interested in participating in this raucous festival.
Siena’s Historic Palio Festival
One of the most popular historical festivals in Italy is the Palio di Siena, a biannual bareback horse race held in Piazza del Campo on one day in July and one day in August. Ten horses and riders representing 10 of the 17 contrade, or historical town districts, race around the piazza as the crowd cheers. The festival also includes pageants, banquets, and religious events.