Cloth $26.00 ISBN: 9780226207827 Will Publish May 2015
E-book $18.00 Available for pre-order. ISBN: 9780226207964 Will Publish May 2015


City of Secrets

Jane Tylus

Jane Tylus

256 pages | 33 color plates, 3 halftones, 3 maps | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Cloth $26.00 ISBN: 9780226207827 Will Publish May 2015
E-book $18.00 ISBN: 9780226207964 Will Publish May 2015
Jane Tylus’s Siena is a compelling and intimate portrait of this most secretive of cities, often overlooked by travelers to Italy. Cultural history, intellectual memoir, travelogue, and guidebook, it takes the reader on a quest of discovery through the well- and not-so-well-traveled roads and alleys of a town both medieval and modern.
As Tylus leads us through the city, she shares her passion for Siena in novelistic prose, while never losing sight of the historical complexities that have made Siena one of the most fascinating and beautiful towns in Europe. Today, Siena can appear on the surface standoffish and old-fashioned, especially when compared to its larger, flashier cousins Rome and Florence. But first impressions wear away as we learn from Tylus that Siena was an innovator among the cities of Italy: the first to legislate the building and maintenance of its streets, the first to publicly fund its university, the first to institute a municipal bank, and even the first to ban automobile traffic from its city center.
We learn about Siena’s great artistic and architectural past, hidden behind centuries of painting and rebuilding, and about the distinctive characters of its different neighborhoods, exemplified in the Palio, the highly competitive horserace that takes place twice a year in the city’s main piazza and that serves as both a dividing and a uniting force for the Sienese. Throughout we are guided by the assured voice of a seasoned scholar with a gift for spinning a good story and an eye for the telling detail, whether we are traveling Siena’s modern highways, exploring its underground tunnels, tracking the city’s financial history, or celebrating giants of painting like Simone Martini or giants of the arena, Siena’s former Serie A soccer team.
A practical and engaging guide for tourists and armchair travelers alike, Siena is a testament to the powers of community and resilience in a place that is not quite as timeless and serene as it may at first appear.
Leonard Barkan, author of Michelangelo: A Life on Paper
“Siena is indeed a city of secrets; it’s always been too secretive for me, despite (or because of) its breathtakingly beautiful surfaces. Tylus manages wonderfully to unfold mysteries while keeping the secrets alive and alluring. The book is a marvelous mixture of erudition and personal reminiscence. Her literary and historical mastery is absolute, but she is also a delightful companion enabling us to travel the city as it exists now and the city with centuries of its history as though intact before our gaze. Read Siena and see the city through the eyes of a particularly gifted observer who is also a gifted writer.”
Randolph Starn, author of Varieties of Cultural History
"Quite a few scholars feel that they have a "crossover book," maybe even a novel in them, but not many can bring it off with Tylus's literary flair. Tylus's dynamic city cuts across romantic and realist stereotypes that have oddly conspired to make Siena seem at once poignantly pretty, frozen in time, and insouciant, unable or unwilling to manage its affairs. Specialists may admire the work, quibble (which is what makes them specialists), or just be envious, but its true audience will be lay lovers of Italy, actual and armchair travelers, and Anglophone students who want a preview or a postlude to studying in Siena. I don't know of any book on Siena in any language better suited to such a readership or a reading."
Ingrid Rowland, author of From Pompeii: The Afterlife of a Roman Town
"By presenting Siena as a pilgrim's city, Jane Tylus has provided an essential key to its complicated beauty.  Best of all, she provides every visitor with a genuine sense of belonging, for she shows, ranging across the centuries, that we wayfarers have been as essential a part of Siena's timeless cityscape as our Tuscan hosts.  A haunting, evocative book about one of the world's most wondrous places."
Millicent Marcus, author of After Fellini: National Cinema in the Postmodern Age
Neither guidebook, nor memoir, nor academic text, but all of these, Tylus’s Siena takes readers into the nooks and crannies of this splendid medieval city without ever losing sight of the larger cultural issues that define Sienese identity. Tylus has done a prodigious amount of research, but she wears her erudition lightly, and writes with a novelist’s flair. She evinces a deep love for Siena, leavened by a wry sense of amusement at the quirks of the native Sienese, and a nuanced understanding of what can make them seem insular. What resides at the center of this book is the story of the author as veteran soujourner—more rooted than tourist or pilgrim, but never quite able to attain that sense of belonging that is the Sienese birthright.  Herein lies the fascination and the challenge of Siena: City of Secrets.

List of Illustrations
Introduction / City of Secrets

1 Terra and Acqua
2 Pilgrims
3 Money
4 Neighborhoods
5 Saints


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