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San Gimignano: the ‘city with 100 towers’ fascinates italians and foreigners

San Gimignano: since 1990 a pasrt of the World Heritage Sites

San Gimignano is a picturesque town located just 45 km from Siena. It is gently set on a hill and enjoys a privileged view over the beautiful Val d’Elsa. Inhabited by the Etruscans, the country has reached its maximum splendor in the Middle Ages: it was frequently used to rest, in fact, by the pilgrims walking along the Via Francigena that connected Canterbury to Rome. A part of the ancient trails was recently restored and offers modern travelers many new opportunities for excursion. San Gimignano still retains its original medieval aspect: the town is still enclosed within the thirteenth-century walls, long more than 2 km and with 5 doors, with the unmistakable profile characterized by no less than 13 tower-houses. Constituting a unique testimony of medieval civilization, in 1990 San Gimignano was included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. In addition, the Italian Touring Club has awrded this city with the prestigious Orange Flag, the mark of touristic and environmental quality reserved for small inland towns.

San Gimignano: things to see

Recommending something to see in San Gimignano is not easy because this city holds many treasures. Three should be, however, the essential destinations: the Campatelli palace and tower, the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and the church of Sant’Agostino. The Campatelli palace and tower have recently been the subject of a careful restoration by the FAI and today are open to the public. The beautiful mansion was built in the twelfth century, and enlarged in the following centuries. Its main feature is the best preserved tower-house of the city: 27 m high, it still retains the original interior volumes. Visiting it is a unique experience that allows you to immerse yourself in the daily life of a small medieval town. The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta was built around the year 1000 as a parish church and was solemnly consecrated in 1148 by Pope Eugene III himself. Among the later additions stands the chapel of Santa Fina, built by three masters of the Renaissance: Domenico Ghirlandaio and the brothers Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano. The church of Sant’Agostino was built between 1280 and 1298, in the Romanesque and Gothic style. It holds the works of the great medieval and Renaissance artists, such as Benozzo Gozzoli, Tino Camaino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Andrea della Robbia.

Visiting San Gimignano

Visiting San Gimignano is a must for those staying in the nearby Siena. From here, the city can be reached by car or by train and bus. Just take the Siena-Empoli railway line, get off at Poggibonsi / San Gimignano station and continue by bus. The mild climate makes the visit enjoyable at any time of year, but it is advisable to plan the trip when one of the famous events is taking place, such as “Degusta con noi” with guided tours to local wineries ( April-October), or the evocative historical re-enactment “Ferie delle messi” (June). We recommend to all gourmets to have a break in one of the many restaurants in the city, to taste food based on the San Gimignano saffron, perhaps accompanied by a glass of the famous Vernaccia di San Gimignano.