First Sun – The Dawn of the Angels

April 16, 23 & 30, 2016: THE DAWN OF THE ANGELS. Museo dell’Opera and Facciatone, Siena. 6 am. Museum admission: €13

Siena offers a unique experience for those looking for a relaxing and refreshing early morning program. Every Saturday in April, the Duomo of Siena will open its doors to the public to catch the first beams of the sun together. Visitors can admire the dawn from the “Facciatone” tower of the Duomo and replenish their mind.

The breathtaking experience of watching sunrise from the “Facciatone” is followed by a group meditation exercise based on the topic of angels. The inspiration for the workshop is the Maestà or Madonna in Majesty, by Duccio di Buoninsegna, the artist’s, and the city’s, greatest masterpiece.

In 1308 Duccio was awarded the commission to create a huge, double-sided altarpiece for the Cathedral. In 1311 when the work was finally finished, it was carried in a triumphal parade from Duccio’s workshop through the streets. The massive altarpiece was escorted by Sienese city officials, clergy and townspeople, who carried candles and torches. With all the church bells of the city ringing in celebration, the grand procession, which included musicians playing trumpets and bagpipes, moved slowly to the church.

Of the many panels, the central one is the most impressive, with its tapestry of Saints and Prophets set against an intricately incised gold background. The central figure of Mary dominates the scene, seated regally on her elegant marble throne holding Baby Jesus on her lap, who looks straight out at the viewer. The inscription at the base of throne reads “Holy Mother of God, bestow peace on Siena and salvation on Duccio who painted you.”

The divine atmosphere the painting creates is designed to give shelter to the soul. The warm colors, the domination of gold and the masterful play of positions, eyes, and gestures are all part of what make this work so outstanding.

“First Sun, The Dawn of the Angels,” is led by Francesca Fumi Cambi Gado, art historian and writer. She will navigate visitors to the realms of the angels and imagination, presenting a lecture on “Golden Leaf- The Story behind Maestà di Duccio” after the meditation.

The program ends with breakfast. For further information and reservation visit or call 0577/286300.