One of the most picturesque places in Siena.
The imposing Palazzo Pubblico stands on Piazza del Campo and inside it is the Courtyard of the Podestà, also known as the ‘Entrone’. Decorated with ancient coats of arms, it’s made of an elegant colonnade over which a floor of large three-light windows with pointed arches rises.
The Courtyard of the Podestà leads to the Torre del Mangia tower, the Civic Museum and the Teatro dei Rinnovati theatre.
During the Palio, the floor inside the courtyard is sprinkled with tufa (typical Sienese sand that covers Piazza del Campo on the days of the famous race). Before the race, the horses wait and rest inside the Entrone.
The Courtyard of the Podestà is a very atmospheric place. It’s a perfect square surrounded by imposing columns and in one corner of this courtyard is the key to the mystery of the Mangia.
The name ‘Mangia’ is the nickname that the Sienese people gave to the first bell-ringer who performed this role from 1347 to 1360. His name was Giovanni di Balduccio and he was known in Siena for squandering everything he made, and for this reason, he was nicknamed ‘the Mangiaguadagni’ (the profit eater), later abbreviated to ‘Mangia’.
Giovanni di Balduccio is also one of the first victims of workplace innovation as he was first replaced by a mechanical clock and then also by an automaton that struck the hours in his place, which was renamed ‘Il Mangia’ soon after by the Sienese. The remains of that automaton are still preserved today in a corner of the Entrone, try looking for them!
Where: Piazza del Campo
When: always visible wonder