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SIENA Art and monuments - Loggia della Mercanzia

The elegant Loggia della Mercanzia, known also as Loggia di San Paolo or Loggia Dei Nobili, is typical of Senese architecture in its transition from Medieval to Renaissance – a development that was slower in this city than in the rest of Italy and that is marked by the persistence of gothic details.

The Loggia della Mercanzia is directly behind Piazza del Campo, at a point known as the Croce del Travaglio junction of the three main streets around which Siena is developed: Banchi di Sopra, Banchi di Sotto (a branch of the old Via Francigena that ran through the city) and Via di Città.

Designed by Sano di Matteo and Pietro del Minella between 1417 and 1428, the Gothic-Renaissance Loggia della Mercanzia is composed of a spacious loggia with three arches supported above richly adorned columns and capitols. The original construction was raised in the 17th century with the addition of tabernacles placed against the supporting columns, containing 15th century statues by Vecchietta, who sculpted a St Paul in 1458 and a St Peter in 1460. Antonio Federighi is responsible for the St Savino, the St Ansano and the St Vittore, all sculpted between 1456 and 1463. The marble slabs within the loggia are decorated with reliefs: Illustrious Romans by Federighi (1464) and Cardinal Virtues by Urbano da Cortona to the left.

Any modern day tourist visiting Siena will find that the itinerary that runs from the Loggia della Mercanzia to the 13th century church of Sant’Agostino along Via di Città is one of the best ways of fully understanding and absorbing the unique Medieval flavour of this city, which has remained intact through the centuries and which – with a touch of imagination – offers a unique glimpse into the splendours of a community grown powerful through trade and upheld by a strong sense of civic duty and republican ideals.

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