The Stanze della Memoria (Rooms of Memory), inaugurated in Siena on 27 January 2007, offer exhibits that retrace the history of the city from the beginning of the 1900s, focusing on the crucial themes of Fascism and the Resistance, through to the ultimate Liberation of Italy.
The city of Siena, like the entire province, was strongly affected by the events of the twentieth century, characterized by unprecedented social upheaval and by the conflicts of war. The Rooms of Memory serve as a window to provide an overview of recent history, prompting daily reflection toward a renewed sense of civil commitment, underlining the importance of freedom and social justice hard-won by the men and women who were active participants in those tormented events.
The Stanze della Memoria take on even deeper layers of meaning when visitors realize that the rooms have been set up in the “Casermetta” (Little Barracks) as the Sienese called the place when, in 1943-1944, it was the headquarters of the Political Police of the Italian Social Republic, where anti-Fascists were interrogated and tortured following their arrest. From there punitive expeditions were sent against the Partisans.
The museum is made up of a teaching hall and 12 rooms laid out on two storeys, retracing the history of Siena during the last century, specifically in the years from the First World War up to the time of the Liberation of Italy. The first floor addresses squadrismo (para-military actions by Fascist militias) and the rise of Fascism, dictatorship, the building of public consensus, the infamous Racial Laws; the second floor illustrates the main episodes of the War and of Partisan resistance, memory of which is documented in videos by some of the protagonists, through to Liberation.
In each room there are giant posters, explanatory panels, films and narrative voices that welcome and lead visitors along the way, recreating the atmosphere of the period. Time spent in the Rooms of Memory allows visitors to get to know one of the most intense and dramatic pieces of Sienese history. The museum is a place that informs and hands on the memory of the struggle against Fascism.
Torture Room: the most “theatrical” space within the museum, lit only by two beams of light, here visitors witness the personal accounts of the people who were arrested, interrogated and tortured at the Casermetta.
The Room of Memory: the room has six screens from which, in turn, six characters retell brief but intense fragments of stories about the Partisans and the Resistance.
The Stanze della Memoria (Rooms of Memory)
Via Malavolti, 9 53100 Siena
Tel. 0577 892038
from 18th May 2021
Tuesday, 9am to 1pm
Thursday, 11am to 4pm
Wednesday and Friday, 3.30pm to 6.30pm
reservation is recommended (+39 0577-236607 or +39 338 8062038 or email@example.com).
Closed from 10th to 20th August 2021.
admission is subject to a contribution of at least € 3.00 – thank you!
“In the fiery and concentrated beauty of Siena there is an artificial note that recalls a city perched atop a hill in an old painting. From the fortifications one views the entire city, the white and brown houses, with brown-hued roofs and smooth façades pierced by multiple windows. […] All around reigns the peace of a green world, now sloping down into valleys strewn with red earth and veiled by the gray mist of the olive trees, with cypresses reaching darkly into the sky, now rising into hills”. (A. Symons, 1907)
In Siena, the flavor, the taste, the view of the city are still the same as those evoked by the words of the English poet who visited and certainly fell in love with the place more than a century ago. Siena sits composedly, perched on its hills. Move away just a little, and you can take it in all at once, the unmistakable skyline of its elongated silhouette, its walls, the Torre del Mangia and the dome of the Cathedral. And it is not even so different, in certain glimpses, from the way its most beloved painters depicted it in the 1300s and 1400s, from Lorenzetti to Simone Martini, from Sano di Pietro to Vecchietta.
The city’s sensual and harmonious relationship with the landscape that surrounds and protects it is also fundamentally unchanged. The hills, cypresses, red earth and olive trees can be reached on foot by walking out through the ancient gates, or else still inside the city, in the protected and precious green valleys that have remained within the walls.
With its slow, almost dreamlike way of life, Siena should be visited calmly, for it needs to be savoured unhurriedly. Stroll through Siena and let yourself be guided by curiosity. Slip into the alleys, look for quiet hidden places, explore a museum, a church or a beautiful palazzo.