Piazza Duomo is flanked on the east side by linked medieval buildings. The town tower, the Torre del Comune, is joined to the striped town hall, the Broletto. These both date from the 13th century. Linked to the Broletto is the massive Duomo, started in 1396, and thus forming a perfect example of the transition in style from Gothic to Renaissance. The architecture is largely Gothic, while the sculpture and decoration reflects Renaissance taste. Look out for the two statues of Pliny the Elder and Pliny the Younger on either side of the central door. It is extraordinary to have such statues of pagans on a church, and it just goes to show how far the humanist ideals of the classical era had penetrated the minds of the late 15th century. Look out also for the stunning rose window. On weekdays the duomo is closed for the long lunch break and reopens at 3.30.
For a complete contrast, walk round the back of the Duomo and take a look across the railway track at the Palazzo Terragni, one of the archetypal Italian buildings of the 20th century and a masterpiece of rationalist architecture. 50 years ahead of its time, it was started in 1931 as the headquarters of the Fascist party, but it has none of the heavy ponderousness or pastiche of many of the public buildings built in Mussolini’s time. It is all light and transparency. Today it is the home of the Guardia di Finanza, who may let you in to have a look at the ground floor if they are in a good mood.