|Siena's Palazzo Pubblico during the Palio|
This October Siena is offering a few freebies. No, sadly not free wine for everybody, but at least some fine events which are part of this month's Festival Contemporaneamente Barocco Siena. FCBS is in its 4th year, thanks also to the generous financial help of Monte dei Paschi di Siena. MPS is also known as the world's oldest bank (founded in 1472) and the bank's Monte dei Paschi di Siena Foundation is one of the main sponsors of anything cultural happening around here.
This on a side note, as I've read a lot this week about a great exhibition at Palazzo Strozzi in Florence called Money and Beauty. Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities. Read Artrav's and the Telegraph's review on it. From my humble experience I'd say that at least Southern Tuscany's cultural life in the 21st century is as dependent form the region's main bank as it was during Renaissance times.
However the financial crisis is taking its toll; locals and tourists alike can feel the lack of resources and not just the Italian government is taking some desperate measures. A few days ago I browsed the leaflet of a Tuscan tour operator. OLIVE PICKING FOR FREE was one of the main attractions. Hmm.
If you too are stranded in Tuscany without a penny in your pocket, come and help ME with our olive picking (for free!) or just have a look at the free stuff Siena's Baroque Festival is throwing in: free guided tours to Siena's baroque treasures (albeit in Italian only), free cinema and a couple of free concerts.
My favorite free event is taking place this Friday night (14th October) in the Palazzo Pubblico. The Palazzo's beautiful Sala del Mappamondo will be used as a stage for VivaBiancaLuna Biffi's smooth voice and diligent fingers.
Where else can you listen to some of Renaissance's finest while admiring Simone Martini's stunning Maestà and his Guidoriccio da Fogliano, two of my favorite paintings in the world. And... all of this for free.
Sala Mappamondo, Palazzo Pubblico right on Piazza del Campo, Siena
Concert starts at 9pm.
Even though it's a free concert you'll have to book your seat. Call +39 0577 292615
If already fully booked, you my want to hang around Palazzo Pubblico towards 8.30pm on the evening as some extra seats will be given away.