The Palazzo Pubblico in Siena
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The construction of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena was decided in July 1297 by the Council of the Nine, who also issued strict rules so that any palace that would be built on the Piazza del Campo could not compete in grandeur or elegance with the Palazzo Pubblico. In 1310 the Palazzo Pubblico became home of Council meetings, while the wing of the Podestà and the Torre del Mangia were finished only 40 years later. The structure is an example of medieval architecture with Gothic influences. The front is slightly curved to accompany the perimeter of the square. The second floor of the side wings was added in 1680, maintaining the style of the town: three-light stone windows with Gothic arches adorned by the "balzana" (the coat of arms symbol of the city of Siena, with white and black colors). The round emblem with the monogram of Christ in copper was added in 1425, to remember a sermon of St. Bernardino of Siena, while the coat of arms of the Medici Family was placed in 1560, when Siena was annexed to the Granducato of Tuscany. Almost all walls of the most important halls are painted. In the Middle Ages only the Church and the religious orders used to have artists decorate churches and monasteries: the frescoes in the Palazzo Pubblico were an exception, because there were commissioned by a Republican government. The most famous are the frescoes of the Good and Bad Government by Ambrogio Lorenzetti of Siena (painted between 1337 and 1339), which represent a strong social message about the value of a stable republican government, as was the Government of the Nine. It was the representation of a city full of people, active and happy, with a prosperous countryside, well farmed and rich with crops, compared with an oppressive environment of war, hunger and drought, when the city was administered by a bad government. This artwork by the Lorenzetti is the largest not religious medieval cycle of paintings.