The Palazzo Pubblico is hard to miss. A magnificent stone and red brick building begun in 1297, with excellent towers and crenelations, it is everything one could hope for from a Gothic town hall. Situated on the lower side of the Piazza Campo, the building is shaped to fit the design of the civic square and has a subtle curve to it.
These days it retains its government functions and also houses the city museum, Museo Civico, which is well worth a visit for its frescoes, paintings and sculptures. The former Sienese school was artistically significant and the late medieval frescoes were some of the first to depict non-religious themes. Instead they made statements about government, justice and patriotic devotion. The most significant is Ambrogio Lorenzetti's huge fresco cycle of 1337, titled Allegory of Good and Bad Government; it’s not difficult to get the painting’s message.
But the city was not turning its back on religion completely, as there are also striking paintings of the Virgin Mary, including Simone Martini's Maesta (Virgin Mary in Majesty), the artist's first known canvas dating from 1315, and also Taddeo di Bartolo’s Storie della Madonna of 1407. Dating from much later, visitors will even find frescoes depicting the Unification of Italy in the late 19th century. Museo Civico is history in art.