Siena: City Of Secrets by Jane TylusSiena: City Of Secrets by Jane Tylus

Siena: City Of Secrets

byJane Tylus

Hardcover | May 15, 2015

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Jane Tylus’s Siena is a compelling and intimate portrait of this most secretive of cities, often overlooked by travelers to Italy. Cultural history, intellectual memoir, travelogue, and guidebook, it takes the reader on a quest of discovery through the well- and not-so-well-traveled roads and alleys of a town both medieval and modern.
           
As Tylus leads us through the city, she shares her passion for Siena in novelistic prose, while never losing sight of the historical complexities that have made Siena one of the most fascinating and beautiful towns in Europe. Today, Siena can appear on the surface standoffish and old-fashioned, especially when compared to its larger, flashier cousins Rome and Florence. But first impressions wear away as we learn from Tylus that Siena was an innovator among the cities of Italy: the first to legislate the building and maintenance of its streets, the first to publicly fund its university, the first to institute a municipal bank, and even the first to ban automobile traffic from its city center.
           
We learn about Siena’s great artistic and architectural past, hidden behind centuries of painting and rebuilding, and about the distinctive characters of its different neighborhoods, exemplified in the Palio, the highly competitive horserace that takes place twice a year in the city’s main piazza and that serves as both a dividing and a uniting force for the Sienese. Throughout we are guided by the assured voice of a seasoned scholar with a gift for spinning a good story and an eye for the telling detail, whether we are traveling Siena’s modern highways, exploring its underground tunnels, tracking the city’s financial history, or celebrating giants of painting like Simone Martini or giants of the arena, Siena’s former Serie A soccer team.
           
A practical and engaging guide for tourists and armchair travelers alike, Siena is a testament to the powers of community and resilience in a place that is not quite as timeless and serene as it may at first appear.
Jane Tylus is professor of Italian studies and comparative literature at New York University, where she is also faculty director of the Humanities Initiative. Her recent publications include Reclaiming Catherine of Siena: Literacy, Literature, and the Signs of Others, also published by the University of Chicago Press, and The Poetics o...
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Title:Siena: City Of SecretsFormat:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 9 × 6 × 1.1 inPublished:May 15, 2015Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022620782X

ISBN - 13:9780226207827

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction / City of Secrets

1 Terra and Acqua
2 Pilgrims
3 Money
4 Neighborhoods
5 Saints

Afterwords
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Editorial Reviews

Neither guidebook, nor memoir, nor academic text, but all of these, Tylus’s Siena takes readers into the nooks and crannies of this splendid medieval city without ever losing sight of the larger cultural issues that define Sienese identity. Tylus has done a prodigious amount of research, but she wears her erudition lightly, and writes with a novelist’s flair. She evinces a deep love for Siena, leavened by a wry sense of amusement at the quirks of the native Sienese, and a nuanced understanding of what can make them seem insular. What resides at the center of this book is the story of the author as veteran sojourner—more rooted than tourist or pilgrim, but never quite able to attain that sense of belonging that is the Sienese birthright.  Herein lies the fascination and the challenge of Siena: City of Secrets.