Piazza del Campo in Siena is not only the heart of the city, but it is also its main symbol. Its unusual and original shell shape makes it unique. It is renowned throughout the world for its beauty and architectural integrity, as well as for being the place where the Palio di Siena takes place twice a year. This square identifies Siena throughout the world as the perfect example of a medieval city.
The square, also called "Il Campo", was built on the intersection of the three main roads leading to Siena and was intended to be a neutral ground where political and civil festivities, anniversaries and events could be celebrated. In 1297, the Municipal Authority created specific guidelines even before all the buildings in the square had been constructed, including the civic ones. The first measures were already written in the 1262 statutes, allowing only two-light or three-light openings, and the building of terraces was prohibited. If a building did not adhere to the guidelines, it would be been demolished, which is what happened to the ancient church of San Pietro e Paolo.
The square has a circumference of 333 metres, paved with a red brick fishtail design divided by ten lines of white travertine, which give it the shape of a shell, creating nine segments that converge towards the Palazzo Pubblico, headquarters of the civic government. Each section represents one of the nine governors who exercised their power during the "Governo dei Nove" (Government of the Nine), considered one of the most stable and peaceful governments in Italy. From an artistic point of view, the purpose of the sections was to represent the folds of the cloak of the Virgin Mary Assunta, not only the patron saint of the city, but also considered the "ultimate protector" of Siena. The square was conceived as the great place where all citizens could meet. No document attests to the fact that all the streets had to converge in Piazza del Campo, but all the streets have an outlet towards the Town Hall or a door from which you can see the tower.
The construction of the Torre del Mangia dates back to 1325-1344, when the paving and the digging of the public fountain were also started. Fonte Gaia is a rectangular basin created by Jacopo della Quercia, located in a point where there was a water source from which the water from the "bottini" underground tunnels poured out.