Ablaze with beauty in the centre of Tuscany lies the town, whose legends originate among the Etruscans and the descendants of Romolo, founder of Rome. Enclosed within its extensive walls, the historic town centre radiates from Piazza del Campo, an area that was re-planned under the powerful Consiglio dei Nove (1287-1355), which not only imposed protectionist laws in favour of local artists, but also – and this was the first case in Italy, in 1297 – building regulations to define town spaces. Piazza del Campo, a splendid basin in the shape of a shell, is dominated by the warm tones of brick and seems to radiate from the massive structure of the Palazzo Pubblico, first built in 1297 and enlarged many times until the 18th century. Inside it holds an enchanting Municipal Museum: a series of rooms like superb windows opening on to the art of Simone Martini, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, Taddeo di Bartolo and Domenico Beccafumi. The 102 m high Torre del Mangia (1338-1348) towers above the skyline of the town; on the opposite side of the square the Fonte Gaia, sculptured by Jacopo della Quercia (1414-1418) is equally magnificent in its celebration of the water which flowed out here in 1346 from 25 km of underground passages (the famous “bottini” which can be visited today). Alongside an extremely steep stairway in the Baptistery of the Cathedral (1316-1325) lies the font, the building of which was keenly contested by Jacopo della Quercia, Donatello and Lorenzo Ghiberti. Some of the most famous Italian artists have worked on the Cathedral from 1229: Nicola Pisano, Arnolfo di Ambio, Tino da Camaiano, Sano di Pietro, Pinturicchio, il Vecchietta, Lorenzo Bernini. The mosaic floor throughout the church represents historical scenes which continue to surprise, and every element, both inside and out, is made of alternate black and white marble. From 1284 Giovanni Pisano worked on the façade and produced the first sculptured group on the front of an Italian, religious building. A project begun in 1339, and then abandoned due to the plague of 1348, was to include the transformation of the basilica into an enormous building. The “Facciatone”, the very high arcade on one side of the square is all that remains of this ambitious idea; it is open to the public and belongs to the richly endowed Museo Metropolitano dell’Opera del Duomo. The unique marvels in the Pinacoteca Nazionale, almost 1,000 works of Sienese art from the 13th to the 17th century, can be found near the Spedale di St. Maria della Scala, where Domenico di Bartolo and il Vecchietta (1440) depicted daily life in fifteenth century Siena in their frescoes. Roads dotted with palaces of the nobility lead to a gigantic brick building: this is the church of St. Domenico (halfway through the 13th century), which reverberates with the light shining through the large glass windows of the presbytery.