Some 700 years ago, the Tuscan town of Siena was a burgeoning banking and proto-industrial powerhouse with over 50,000 inhabitants — a population surpassed only by medieval “mega-cities” like Paris, London and Milan.
But then, in 1348, just when the thriving city was in the prime of its golden age, Siena’s prosperity was brought to a sudden halt by the Black Death. In just a few years, the city lost 60 percent of its population and entered into a steep decline, falling into obscurity. It took until the 20th century for it to recover its pre-pandemic size.