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To fully understand and appreciate the rich culture of this Tuscan city, it may be helpful to read up on Siena’s past before visiting. One book that thoroughly details the artistic growth of Siena at the height of its power is the hardcover Painting in Late Medieval and Renaissance Siena 1260 - 1555 by Diana Norman (Yale University Press, 2003), which covers Sienese artists active between the mid-1200s and mid-1500s. Diana Norman is also the author of Siena and the Virgin - Art & Politics in a Late Medieval City State (Yale University Press 1999).
A shorter and less pricey introduction is Timothy Hyman’s Sienese Painting: The Art of a City-Republic (Thames & Hudson, 2003). It covers approximately the same time period as Painting in Late Medieval and Renaissance Siena, but includes analysis of social, political and religious influences of the time on Sienese art.
The earliest known artist of the Siennese school of painting was Duccio di Buoninsegna (c. 1255 - 1319). Two useful introductions to his works are Duccio by Andrea Weber (Konemann 1997) and Duccio and the Origins of Western Painting by Keith Christiansen (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York 2008)
A more historical approach to understand the culture and traditions of the city can be found in Siena & the Sienese in the Thirteenth Century by Daniel Philip Waley (Cambridge University Press, 2006). This book discusses the political institutions of the city during medieval times and its transition to a republican government.For more practical tourist information, check out SienaOnline or About Siena for virtual tourist guides to the city. Those who prefer a paper copy of Siena’s attractions can opt for a city map from Rough Guides or a travel book from one of many guidebook publication companies. Not many publishers print a guide specifically for Siena (though Footprint Handbooks does offer Siena & the Heart of Tuscany ), so look for one that covers the Tuscan region as a whole.