At the heart of Siena lies the Piazza del Campo, one of the most beautiful civic spaces in all of Italy. Its shape is unique and is often compared to that of a shell or fan, but the citizens of Siena like to compare it to the mantle of the Madonna.
The piazza was paved in brick at the beginning of the 14th century. The bricks are laid in a herringbone pattern and divided into nine sections by long strips of stone, thus symbolising the government of the Lords Nine. The Noveschi ruled Siena from 1292 to 1355, a period which was later looked back upon as a golden age, a period of unprecedented peace and prosperity.
The Piazza del Campo, which has always been the focal point for public life in the city, is the venue for the twice-yearly horse race, the world famous Palio di Siena.