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Moonwalking at the Piccolomini Library, Siena

Photography and text © 2013 Leticia Marie Sanchez

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Scruffy tennis shoes tread on crescents more than five centuries old. Half-moons fade under the weight of so many soles. Has no one thought of plexiglass? The 16th century ceramic crescents on which tourists so casually trample represent the emblem of a powerful Sienese family, the Piccolomini.

The Piccolomini Library honors 15th century humanist and scholar, Enea Silvio Piccolomini, also known as Pope Pius II.

The ceiling and walls, with their luscious scarlets and blues, remain vibrant as ever, shockingly, when one discovers that they have neither been cleaned nor retouched.

Bernardino di Betto, more commonly known as Pinturicchio, created the glorious frescoes depicting the life of Pope Pius II. If you walk closely enough, you will observe glittering textures of gold emanating from the robes, collars, and belts of Pinturicchio’s subjects, a window to Renaissance splendor. The sculpture of the Three Graces, its effective juxtaposition of sacred and profane, underscores the secular Humanistic spirit of the age,

Piccolomini or “Piccoli uomini” means “Little Men” and Pinturicchio translates as “the Little Painter.”

Once you enter the library doors and begin your moonwalk, you will instantly forget these misnomers. Greatness abounds.

 

Posted by on August 23rd, 2013

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