Experience 14th century Siena in the footsteps of Saint Catherine, an extraordinary individual and patron saint of Italy. An expert guide will lead you on this tour that promises a fascinating glimpse into the everyday life of medieval Siena.
Info & Booking
Private guided visit for groups up to 20 people.
Departure: San Domenico Church, meeting point with the guide by the totem
- From March 17th to October 15th:from 10.00a.m. to 12.00a.m. and from 3.00p.m. to 5.00p.m. (last visit at 4.00p.m.)
- From October 16th to March 16th: from 10.00a.m. to 12.00a.m. ( last tour at 11.00a.m.)
Tour includes entrance tickets to the places to be visited, that will be picked up by the guide at the moment of the entrance to each museum at OPAticket office. entrance to Santa Maria della Scala not included, therefore optional.
Available in Italian, English, French, German ad Spanish; upon reservation, also in Portuguese, Japanese and Hungarian.
Reservation must be made at least 10 days before.
Save time in ordering! Add into your basket all the museum tickets you want, then fill the form and send the request.
Before making your eservation, please, read the Ordering Informations
IMPORTANT NOTICE: After succesfully completing a reservation, you will receive two e- mails: the copy of your order (immediately after submitting your order) and the confirmation mail (one working day after). In order to receive them, please make sure you insert your e-mail address correctly and check that your anti-spam filter or antivirus are not blocking mails from our address [email protected] Special attention for AOL, Comcast and Sbcglobal.net mailbox users. Vouchers will also be available, aftre one business day from the request, at the page http://www.weekendinitaly.com/get_vouchers2.php
PLEASE NOTICE: Confirmed time is not always the same time you requested; museum automatically confirms the closest available time (any time) on the same date if requested time is sold out.
Cancellations and changes:
Once a visit is confirmed, it can be canceledup to 7 days before and refunded cost of tickets and guide (not the reservation fee); later cancellations and no shows are no refundable.
HOW TO REACH SIENA:
BUS LINE FLORENCE - SIENA (SITA): Click here for information regarding this line
From North: A1 Highway - exit Firenze Certosa; then, Superstrada Firenze Siena - exit Siena Porta San Marco. Follow indications to Il Fagiolone Parking, Strada di Pescaia, to make the checkpoint and continue until Porta San Marco, where passengers will be able to make the visit of Siena.
From South: A1 Highway - exit Bettolle, then, Raccordo Autostradale Bettolle Siena - entrance Siena West Ring Road - exit Siena Porta San Marco
Before You Book
PLEASE NOTE: Immediately after submitting an order, you will receive two emails. The first email contains your order summary (this one you receive immediately after placing your order), the second email confirms your successful payment (one business day after placing the order). In order to receive these two emails, please make sure that you enter your email address correctly and check that antispam or antivirus filters do not block emails from our [email protected] address. Users of AOL, Comcast and Sbcglobal.net need to pay special attention to this, please. Vouchers will also be available, one business day after the request, at your dashboard.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The time you select on the order form is your preferred time. The closest available time, which can be anytime during opening hours on the selected date, will be automatically confirmed if your preferred time is no longer available.
The Way of Saint Catherine
During her lifetime, Saint Catherine of Siena exercised an irresistible charm on the people she encountered. Catherine participated fully in the life of the society of her time. Her worldly life makes her an excellent guide for those who wish to enter into the spirit, the culture, the splendor and power, the joys and the pains of 14th century Siena, one of Europe\'s most vibrant cities at the time.
The Basilica of San Domenico
A visit to the Basilica of San Domenico is an opportunity to experience the influence of the Dominican friars in Saint Catherine’s Siena. Saint Dominic and Saint Francis created a new way of living the religious life, well-suited to the new commercial cities. Their friars did not produce everything they needed, as did monks. Instead, they depended on the generosity of the people in whose midst they lived. The Franciscan and Dominican friars were therefore known as “mendicants.”
The convents were located where the poorest people lived at the edge of town. The large size of the churches was meant to accommodate great masses of common people during religious services. Saint Catherine attended Holy Mass in this church, which dominates the district of Fontebranda where she lived, a great many times.
This place also explains Saint Catherine’s theological background: the official name of the Dominicans was the Order of Preachers, because their aim was the teaching of the truths of the faith. Raised in this tradition and despite her humble origins, Saint Catherine was able to build on a solid religious teaching. Later, she would develop this more deeply and fully with her divine revelations.
The Shrine of the House of Saint Catherine
Why is Saint Catherine\'s house considered more representative of her than a convent? The answer lies in the fact that Catherine belonged to the Third Order of Saint Dominic. After taking the habit of a tertiary (called “mantellata”, because a cloak was part of the habit), Catherine continued to live in her family’s house. This tradition was in keeping with the new way of living in dedication to God first introduced by Saint Francis and then adopted by Saint Dominic.
The institution of the Third Order was a response to the many faithful lay men and women who wanted to pursue an intense Christian life without living in a convent like the friars. Belonging to the Third Order offered the possibility of living the faith in the world. From the 13th century onwards, this proposal of ‘lay holiness’ captured a great number of adherents, thanks to the force of the message it contained: in every condition of life lies the opportunity to live the Gospel, and the call to holiness is not reserved for some, but is universal.
The story of Saint Catherine is an emblematic example of this way of life: living her life in her home and on the streets of the city rather than in a convent. Being a lay sister rather than a nun did not keep Catherine from entering into deep communion with God and living according to His teachings.
The public fountain of Fontebranda, the oldest in existence in Siena, leads us into the social context in which Catherine lived. It is the reason why she is remembered as the Saint of Fontebranda.
The presence of the fountain made this area one of the main centers of Sienese daily life. Siena is built on arid hills, far away from waterways, and water access was therefore of great importance to the city. Inhabitants patiently dug an extraordinary web of underground aqueducts (“bottini”) through the rock. These fed water into the city’s fountains, wells, and cisterns.
One of the main “bottini” in the system was the one at Fontebranda. Consequently, the water in this fountain was especially abundant and quenched the thirst of half the city for centuries, including that of Catherine and her family. The fountain also guaranteed the water necessary to support her father’s cloth dying business.
Via del Costone
This is where Catherine had her first vision at the age of just seven, while she was walking home from Fontebranda with her brother Stefano. The memory of this event is preserved in an open air fresco created in the 18th century.
Oratory of the Company of Saint Catherine of the Night
This evocative space is located in the heart of the thousand-year-old hospital of Santa Maria della Scala, one of the most ancient hospitals in Europe. Founded in the 9th century as an expression of God’s love for those in need, this charitable institution was first and foremost a hostel for the many pilgrims on the Via Francigena, as well as a place of welcome for the poor and for abandoned children. Over time, the care and treatment of the sick was added to these aims.
Such a place could not help attracting Catherine, who came here every day, bringing aid and comfort to those in need. Catherine prayed with the brothers and spent long nights at the bedsides of the sick in Santa Maria della Scala, seeking only moments of rest in the little cell on the left side of the oratory.
Though Catherine never became a member of the Company – membership was open only to men – the name of the Company was changed to Santa Caterina della Notte (Saint Catherine of the Night) in honor of her in 1479.
As was custom for all the citizens of Siena for centuries, Saint Catherine was baptized in the Baptistery of San Giovanni. This place has great importance, because through baptism Christians become members of the universal Church and of their local community.
Compared to the usual structure of Baptisteries, the one in Siena has some distinctive characteristics. First and foremost is its position in the back of the Cathedral rather than in front. It still fulfills its symbolic function of access to the Church, since it faces towards the heart of the city.
Once a confirmation code has been assigned to your reservation, we can refund the cost of unused tickets, also for no-shows, minus a service fee (reservation fee and online booking fee).