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Rawi and Jacqueline at the Duomo

We have a running joke in my family that whenever we walk into a beautiful building, all eyes turn and look at the ornate ceilings; however, my father, Rawi and I always look down at the stone floors.


On my recent trip to Siena in Italy, we visited the Duomo Di Siena, a Medieval Church in the heart of Tuscany. This Cathedral, designed in the 1200’s, is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta.

The first gorgeous visual that you notice are the striking black and white stripes around the Cathedral. These colors are the civic coat of arms of Siena.

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Marble Panel on the floor of the Duomo

As you enter into the Duomo, you are greeted with the most beautiful inlaid marble mosaic floors. 40 artists contributed to the 56 marble panel masterpieces. Mostly they depict scenes from the Old Testament as well as allegories.


Earlier panels were made by the “graffito” technique: “drilling tiny holes and scratching lines in the marble and filling these with bitumen or mineral pitch.”

Later panels introduced more colorful stones: black, white, green, red and blue marble. The technique of marble inlay evolved in later years, which finally resulted in the stark contrast between light and dark colors.

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She Wolf of Siena

My favorite marble panel was the “She Wolf of Siena” which symbolizes the confederate cities (Lupa senese e simboli delle città alleate). It dates from 1373 and was restored in 1864.

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Weighted Pulley



I was lucky enough to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of the Duomo, where we were shown how the Cathedral was constructed: pulley systems, various carving tools, and which stones were chosen.

Some of the stones used in the Duomo Di Siena include: Marmo Rosso Francia, Serpentinite Verdi di Prato, Marmo Grigio Perla, Calcare Nero di Montieri, Travertino Chiaro, Marmo Bianco Statuario, Marmo Giallo Ocra- to name only a few. I cannot tell you how truly beautiful it is to behold all these colorful marbles as well as the detailed carvings of the mosaic floors.

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Carving Tools













Last but not least, behind the Duomo Di Siena stands the Battistero Di San Giovanni, constructed in the 1300’s by Camaino Di Crescentino. My favorite part of this structure? The exterior architectural details. I loved the lion and human faces protruding from the structure. They peer out onto the square at the many people that come to pay their respects and admire this amazing Duomo.

Battistero Di San Giovanni