The Torre del Mangia is the most famous symbol of Siena.
It was begun by the brothers Francesco and Muccio di Rinaldo in 1325 and completed around 1348. The tower, 87 meters high, 102 meters if you include the lightning rod. The tower is in red brick until the crown, while the upper part in travertine is the work of the Sienese sculptor Agostino di Giovanni, following the design by Lippo Memmi. In 1666, after several attempts of fusion, a large bell was put in, and the Sienese called it the “Campanone”, also called “Sunto” because it was dedicated to the Madonna dell'Assunta.
The tower is open to the public (entrance from the Cortile del Podestà) and there are more than 400 steps to climb to reach the top, from where you can admire a wonderful view of Siena and the surrounding countryside.
It owes its curious name of Torre del Mangia to the fact that the Municipality entrusted, from 1347 to 1360, the task of beating the hours to someone called Giovanni di Balduccio, nicknamed “Mangiaguadagni” (eat-the-earnings). It was later replaced by an automaton, which, in memory of his first batter, was called Mangia. The remains of this automaton are now kept inside the Cortile del Podestà.
At the base of the tower is the Cappella di Piazza (Square Chapel), built in 1352 as a thanks for the end of the terrible plague of 1348. The wrought iron gates are from the fourteenth century, just like the six statues that are in the niches of the pillars. The vault is instead a Renaissance work (1461-68) by Antonio Federighi.