Have you ever wondered what are the origins of the coat of arms of Siena and what symbols represent this city?
In each of them there is a fragment of history, there are roots to which every Sienese is deeply connected, furthermore each symbol is linked to mythical episodes, historical events considered turning points for the birth and development of a community.
All this is Siena: it is therefore important to recognize the official emblem, balzana, and the Sienese she-wolf, which now you can see in different parts of the city.
The coat of arms, a Gothic shield divided horizontally into two parts, the higher silver and lower in black, dating back at least to the middle of the thirteenth century and the choice of two colors has different motivations.
First, there is a distinction with respect to the colors of the coats of arms of other Tuscan cities like Florence and Lucca; secondly, the colors may symbolize the black and white smoke, emerged from the pyre wishes that the two brothers Senio and Ascanio were lit to thank the gods after the founding of the city of Siena.
Who are these two brothers? Here we find the link with the she-wolf, because Senio and Ascanio are the sons of Remus, and, according to the legend, they fled from Rome after the fratricide committed by Romulus. They brought with them a statue of the she-wolf; the wolf had suckled their own father and their uncle.
For this reason there is a similarity between the most popular symbol of the Eternal City and Siena: you can spot the statues of Sienese she-wolf, for example, in Piazza Tolomei, Piazza di Postierla, Piazza del Duomo and Podesta’s Courtyard.
There is a difference between the Roman and the Sienese she-wolf, the position of the head: the first looks to the side, the second looks forward. In the following picture, you can see the statue of the she-wolf of Siena present in the Museo dell’Opera Metropolitana del Duomo.
About the balzana we can say that the people of Siena, due to their “fiery” character, are also defined balzani, a word that, in Italian, has the meaning of eccentric and extravagant.
Balzana, furthermore, could derive from the black and white horses rode by Senio and Ascanio to escape from Rome.
An oddity about the origin of some cities is in the names of these two brothers, in fact, Siena it comes from Senio and Asciano derives from Ascanio.
Before the balzana, however, there were other coats of arms of Siena, as the silver lion on a red field, a symbol of the people, later became the emblem of the province of Siena.
Finally, Siena is the city of the 17 contrada, each with its own flag, its own victories of the Palio and rivalries which however, don’t affect the common identity of Sienese people, whose virtue is to respect the traditions and protect the beauty of these places defined by a unique charm.
Credits preview photo: By Valentini17 (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or FAL], via Wikimedia Commons