Piazza del Campo, often simply called "Il Campo" or "The Piazza" is the historical and topographic center of the town. It is shaped like a shell and is one of the most picturesque squares in Italy. It dates back to the fruitful days of the Middle ages.
At the base of the shell stands the massive Palazzo Pubblico (Town Hall) whilst the fan like part is delimited by old battlemented and turreted houses. This building (1288) is a true masterpiece of Tuscan gothic architecture. Just as grandiose as Palazzo della Signoria in Florence, it is even richer, more graceful and elegant owing to the curved fa?ade and thank to the two different materials used, the ogival three-fold windows instead of double ones and to the greater slenderness of the whole.
The Town hall with the “Mangia” Tower is stupendous with its background of imposing buildings; the splendid Palazzo d’Elci, the zebra striped belfry of the Cathedral and the cupola stand out in black and white against the predominant brick-red tones of the other houses.
Almost at the centre of the “Piazza” on the highest spot is Fonte Gaia, the Gay Fountain,. It was placed there in 1409. It is decorated with Jacopo della Quercia ‘s splendid bas-reliefs. Above all, rises the massive Palazzo Sansedoni (1216) with its dull red brick fa?ade enlivened with the brighter tones of the graceful three-fold windows.
All the most important public events in the history of Siena took place in this square. This is the Piazza where twice a year the Sienese relive the passions of bygone days during the Palio delle Contrade (horse race which is one of the best Italian popular manifestations.