San Gimignano: in the footsteps of history

Monuments that tell their own stories

A pearl of the Val d'Elsa with an unmistakable profile—whenever you see a spire in the sky look out for the ancient tower-houses, the feature that makes San Gimignano unique and famous all over the world. The appearance of the thirteenth and fourteenth-century Tuscany has remained intact here, so that walking the streets of the town seems like a voyage back in time, to relive the atmosphere of this historical period. 

Perched on a verdant hill, this is a unique and special place where you still breathe the traditions of the past and a piece of history that characterized this region. Walking through the old town there are 13 towers (at the height of the town's prosperity there were as many as 72). The tower was a symbol of power, the leading families vied to build them and make them higher than those of their rivals. 

Because of its uniqueness, authenticity and integrity, San Gimignano was declared a World Heritage site in 1990 and receives many visitors each day.

Piazzo del Popolo -
This piazza is one of the most important monuments in San Gimignano; it houses the Museo Civico, whose collection is rich in paintings from the Florentine and Sienese schools from the 14th century. Paintings include a triptych by Niccolò Tegliacci and Taddeo di Bartolo and important works from the 1400s by Domenico Michelino, Pinturicchio and Filippino Lippi. The palazzo’s walls are adorned with frescoes depicting various scenes, including ones like scenes from private life by Memmo di Filippuccio and a Maestà by Lippo Memmi. The left side of the tower boasts a tall and imposing tower erected in 1300.

The Duomo - This Tuscan Romanesque construction is considered a temple of faith and art. Originally a simple “pieve” (parish church), the structure underwent a variety of renovations and enlargements until it became the splendid icon it is today. The interior is decorated with beautiful frescoes: along the left wall we find the “Story of the Old Testament” by Bartolo di Fredi. The right wall boasts the “Story of the New Testament” attributed to Barnaba da Siena. At the entrance of the central nave are two famous wood statues by Jacopo della Quercia on the sides of the Benozzo Gozzoli fresco depicting the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian. On upper part of the central nave, in between the two entrance doors and in the two right and left arcades are frescoes by Taddeo di Bartolo depicting the Last Judgment. In the right nave, at the foot of the transept is the famous Chapel of Saint Fina completed in 1468 and one of the Duomo’s most precious treasures thanks to the Domenico Ghirlandaio frescoes depicting Saint Gregory Announcing Saint Fina’s Impending Death. The chapel also houses the saint’s bones and an elegant altar.

End your day in San Gimignano with a visit to the Museo del Vino della Vernaccio di San Gimignano, housed in the Villa della Rocca di Montestaffoli. It is the place to go enjoy local specialties and traditions associated with San Gimignano’s famous Vernaccia wine. Don’t miss San Gimignano 1330, an interactive museum that tells you all you need to know about the medieval city while having fun and learning!

Source: Pro Loco San Gimignano

Cover image credit: Antonio Cinotti

&
Art and Culture