Il Palazzo delle Papesse
The name of the Palazzo delle Papesse recalls two historical figures: Caterina and Laudomia, sisters of Pope Pius II. Caterina directed the works of construction of the Palazzo, which was designed not in a typical Siena style, but strongly associated with the Piccolomini family.
The Palace was built between 1460 and 1595, is a typical example of Renaissance architecture in Florentine style and presents two Piccolomini coats of arms on the stone facade; it is also characterised by an inner courtyard, where capitals, made by the sculptor Marrina around 1509-1510, can be admired. The Palazzo resembles both to the Palazzo Ruccellai by Leon Battista Alberti, and the one designed by Rossellino himself for the Palazzo Piccolomini of Pienza.
It was the residence of the noble Sienese family, bankers to the papal court, one of the most important and influential lineages in the city from the twelfth century. At the end of the seventeenth century, the great family died out and the Consorteria Piccolomini decided to rent the building to the Collegio Tolomei (an institute whose purpose was to educate young nobles), which remained there until the start of the nineteenth century.
Later, the Palazzo was given over to the Scrittoio Delle Regie Fabbriche, that is the State, thus housing different government offices and subsequently, until 1858, it served the purpose of State Archive.
The Palazzo was bought by Banca d’Italia in 1884 and then subject to various alterations to adapt it to its new function. Date back to this period the neo-renaissance frescoes that decorate some rooms of the noble floor of the building. Palazzo Piccolomini has hosted the Siena branch of the Bank of Italy for 100 years.
This brief portrayal of the Palazzo would be incomplete without mentioning the famous altana on the roof, which offers an extraordinary view of the Duomo and of the whole city of Siena; from the terraces of the Palazzo, Galileo Galilei, for some months guest of the archbishop Piccolomini, improving his studies on the principles of mechanics.
Banca d’Italia has recently restored the main façade overlooking via di Città and the façade on via del Castoro, bringing the building back to its glory.