3. Siena: The Life of St. Catherine Tour
Begin with the Basilica of San Domenico, exploring this extraordinary chapel dedicated to the saint on the right side of the nave. Your tour continues to the suggested birthplace of St. Catherine, which became a sanctuary in 1464 shortly after her canonization. The sanctuary consists of three oratories with decorations of different periods, ranging from the Renaissance to the Baroque to the Sienese Purism. These oratories allow you to understand the intense mystical and diplomatic life of St. Catherine.
From the house of St. Catherine, descend towards Fontebranda, one of the oldest and most important medieval fountains whose water was used by the dyers. The district of Fontebranda was in fact inhabited by many dyers who had their houses, laboratories, and warehouses for dyeing cloth in this area. Among them was Catherine’s father, Jacopo Benincasa.
From the fountain, decide whether to take the escalators that lead near the Duomo or walk along the Via del Costone, which offers wonderful panoramic views. Catherine used to walk this way to reach the cathedral and the hospital, and it was there that according to legend she had her first mystical vision as a small girl.
You then reach Piazza San Giovanni, where the baptistery is located. It was rebuilt there as a sort of second façade of the cathedral during Catherine’s ages, who received the sacrament of Baptism there. Going up the steps of the Baptistery you reach the Duomo, in front of which the imposing building of the Hospital Santa Maria della Scala stands. In this place, Catherine used to offer her help to the sick and poor people of the city. Inside you will visit the Oratory where Catherine rested and prayed after having dedicated herself to works of charity.