Idea #642 – Visiting the city of San Gimignano in Tuscany
The historic center of San Gimignano is located on a hill, dominating the surrounding landscape. In the Middle Ages, due to its location in the Val d’Elsa 56 km south of Florence, the city was an important staging post for pilgrims traveling to and from Rome via the Via Francigena. It became independent in 1199.
Between the 11th and 13th centuries, the noble families and upper middle class merchants, who controlled the free city, built numerous fortified tower houses, probably 72, as symbols of their power and wealth. The city was organized around two main squares: the Piazza della Cisterna, with a triangular plan, decorated in its center with a beautiful well, and the Piazza Duomo, dating from the end of the 13th century, with its complex plan and the most high concentration of public and private monuments.
After 1353, the city entered a period of decline due to episodes of famine and pestilence which caused a sharp decline in the population. In the space of a hundred years, it demoted to the level of the other lands which were under the control of Florence. However, this new status prevented the city from being affected by the urban renewal which, after the Middle Ages, transformed many historic Italian towns.
While only 14 original tower houses have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal ambiance and appearance, with several remarkable 12th and 14th century palaces embellishing it. The city is also home to several masterpieces of 14th and 15th century Italian art which can be found in the cathedral and other prominent religious and private buildings.
The historic center of San Gimignano is a cultural site of exceptional value, given that it has carefully preserved its architectural homogeneity and its original urban scheme. The buildings within the double wall ring provide a shining example of medieval architecture, influenced by the styles of Florence, Siena and Pisa from the 12th to 14th centuries. The city is registered on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Where is it ?
San Gimignano, Sienna, Tuscany, Italia