The Basilica dell’Osservanza is located 2 kilometers outside of the historical center of Siena, on top of a hill called Colle del Capriola. It was constructed by San Bernardino di Siena, in the 15ht century. Some possessions of the saint are kept in the cell where he used to sleep inside the convent.
Basilica dell’Osservanza Siena
Address: Strada dell’Osservanza, 7 – 53100 Siena. Phone: +39 0577-332448. Opening times: From 08.30 till 12.30 and from 15.30 till 19.30 (18.00 in winter). Closed: Never. Ticket price: Free.
History and description
Before the saint built the basilica, there used to be a 12th century hermitage on the same site. The building was often modified and/or enlarged. One of the architects who worked on it was (probably) Francesco di Giorgio Martini.
A big reconstruction was needed after bombings during Word War II. In order to rebuild the church as faithfully as possible to how it was before, the original stones were used.
The church has a beautiful portico preceding a rather unadorned facade. it consists of a single nave, with four chapels on each side.
Works of art
Andrea della Robbia was responsible for the terracotta “Coronation of the Virgin”. There are also some enamelled terracotta’s by the artist.
On the altar of the sacristy, you can admire a polychrome terracotta “Pietà”, by Giacomo Cozzarelli (1453-1515), a local sculptor.
The wooden choir is decorated with carvings by Antonio Barili.
The tomb of Pandolfo Petrucci, de facto ruler in Siena at the turn of the century between the 15th and 16th centuries, is inside the church.
Sano di Pietro (1405-1481), who lived and worked around Siena, and also played a political role in the city for a while, painted two Madonnas that are quite similar in composition. The first one is a “Madonna and Child and Saints Ambrosio and Girolamo”. In the second one Ambrosio has been replaced by Bernardino.
Andrea di Bartolo
Andrea di Bartolo painted the polyptych “Four Saints.” Painted in 1413, this work was part of a larger whole and can be seen in the 4th chapel on the left. The saints are John the Baptist, St. Francis of Assisi, St. Peter and the Apostle John.
The Aurelio Castelli Museum in the former sacristy has a collection of art works and sacred furnishings taken from the church itself.