News & Blog

Frescoes in Siena

by Elena D. & Keara S. This past weekend was the closing of our full first week here in Firenze. We capped off the week with a day trip to Sienna followed by a stop at San Gimigniano. Sienna had one building in particular with frescos that stayed with us for the rest of the weekend. It amazes us every day how much one can actually learn from an old country and city.  We were always taught that it is important to study history in school because mistakes are repeated and we can learn how to be successful from studying the past.  Being surrounded by the very primary sources that are in our textbooks back home just highlight the amount of wisdom in this paese vecchio (old country). In today’s world, everyone has his or her own idea of what it means to be a successful, prosperous society.  It is very refreshing to know that our generation is not the first to ponder the question of what a truly successful society is.   When we were in Sienna, we were lead into a room where the medieval governing body would gather to lead the city.  The frescos in this marvelous room are from the 14th century and are almost completely intact.  They depict the city’s own answer to the question of how to create a prosperous city.  One wall was dedicated to what a happy city should look like. Commerce, construction, and art were some aspects of the “successful” city. Ruling over this land were the virtues that the city should govern with, such as Justice, Peace, Temperance, Fortitude, and Wisdom (all allegorically personified). On the opposite wall was the opposite city: one governed by Greed, Cruelty, and Deceit. As one would predict, this alternate city shows children being killed, disease, and crumbling buildings. This side of the fresco, ironically, was the only part of the painting that is physically deteriorating. Elena D &Keara S. frescoes The fresco teaches everyone from the 14th Century to the present that prosperity is based off of justice and wisdom and fortitude alike, and is not achieved by acting with greed and cruelty. It’s comforting to know that the virtues deemed “good” in the 14th Century are still taught and honored today, and that we, as students, have the opportunity to learn from them as well. With love from Firenze, Keara and Elena