In every city there are museums that are overshadowed by their more popular neighbors. And this can be said about Siena’s Pinacoteca Nazionale. Visiting the museum, you will most probably find yourself all alone among one of the greatest collections of medieval art.
The museum is situated in a former family home, just 5 minutes from the Piazza del Campo – heart of the city’s historic center, but it seems to be off the tourist radar. Pinacoteca offers a remarkable collection of the 13th-15th century paintings of mainly local artists, if you are interested in art especially in “byzantine” style and “trecento” (13th century) art this is a must see.
The building itself, erected in the 15th century is somewhat run down and needs some more care, but it adds to the experience. Although remember – you will have to go up three floors and the ceilings in noble houses were very high.
The museum doesn’t offer audio guides or much information in English, but it offers free Wi-Fi and you can navigate the museum with the help of the Pinacoteca Nazionale site. The best way to view the collection is to begin from the top floor and move downwards – paintings are arranged in chronological order making the changes in style over the years quite clear. The number of “Maddonas and Childs” might be overwhelming, but you witness the development of the Siena School of art.
Part of the charm of the museum is that it is not that popular and you find yourself alone with grand religious masterpieces with benches and chairs to sit down and thoroughly study all the details. The collection is actually grand and quite demanding for one visit. The ticket price is one of the lowest we’ve seen in any other Tuscan museum – just €4 and we must say, these were the best €4 spent in a long time!
Tip: One of the museum halls (sometimes closed) offers spectacular views of Siena. Even if you don’t find it, ask the friendly and proud staff, they will be glad to reveal the view to you even if the hall is closed.
Fact: The architecture of the Palazzo, that used to be a family home, allows it to be cool without the air conditioner even on hot summer days.