In addition to the beautiful marble and works of art that it contains, the Duomo of Siena also hides another gem: the Piccolomini Library. For those who do not know, Enea Silvio Piccolomini was a leading character in the fifteenth century. He acted as a conciliator and peacemaker between Emperor Frederick III and the church as well as arranging his marriage to Eleanor of Aragon and organizing his coronation in Rome. He was such an important figure of that period that in 1447 he was appointed Bishop of Trieste and then Bishop of Siena in 1450. After becoming cardinal he was elected pope in 1458 taking the name of Pope Pius II. Due to his importance he was given a dedicated space within the cathedral and so a library was conceived and organized by his grandson, the future Pope Pius III. Although the collection of manuscripts was never completed, there is,
nevertheless, a great number of hand written manuscripts in the collection. Its most beautiful feature, however, are the frescoes that adorn the walls. They feature the work of Pinturicchio and his pupils, among them a very young Raphael. The walls are divided into 10 scenes with each representing an important event from the secular and religious career of pope Pius II, first as a high prelate, then bishop, a cardinal and ultimately pope. These include being made ambassador to the Scottish Court and being crowned court poet by Emperor Frederick III. The ceiling boasts stunning frescoes. In the main rectangle of the middle vault painted in blue, red and gold are grotesque frescoes, while at the centre there is the family’s coat of arms. There is also a wonderful copy of the Three Graces of ancient Rome, a reproduction of the original work dating back to the Hellenistic period (IV -II centuries BC).