San Gimignano

San Gimignano
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The Historic Centre of San Gimignano is known for its medieval tower houses and works of art. The towers date from the 12th and 13th centuries, when there were 72 of them (now only 14 are left).

The two main churches in town are the Collegiata, formerly a cathedral, and Sant'Agostino. Both house a wide representation of artworks from some of the main Italian renaissance artists.

The Communal Palace, once seat of the podestá, is currently home of the Town Gallery, with works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino, and others. From Dante's Hall in the palace, access may be made to a Majesty fresco by Lippo Memmi, as well as the Torre Grossa which stands fifty-four meters high.

Map of San Gimignano

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Visit February 2009

San Gimignano is located about half an hour north of Siena. It's a typical medieval walled town, so parking is outside the walls. Because the city center is so confined behind these walls, it feels very authentic. Maybe even a bit too much, as I wrote "museum city" in my notes for today. A number of churchgoers and a handful of tourists were the only people around.

February 2009

Most of the towers are located around the two main squares. They really look like skyscrapers, but almost without any windows!

I usually don't climb towers anymore, but this city is all about these things so I felt I had to. For a 5 EUR entrance fee you're allowed to climb the 150 or so stairs to the top of the Torre Grossa. Fortunately the stairs have all been refurbished to 21st century standards: they are wide and strong enough to receive hordes of tourists. At the top you can walk around in the open air and enjoy a 360 degree view of San Gimignano and the surrounding Elsa Valley.

February 2009

At the bottom of the Torre Grossa lies the Palazzo Communale. Here's where you find the city's other trademark: in situ works of medieval art (paintings and frescoes). Don't forget to take a look at the outer courtyard, which has pretty frescoes too.

February 2009

 

Community Reviews

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Nan

Germany - 15-Apr-18 -

San Gimignano by Nan

San Gimignano is one of the sites I knew I had been to as a kid, but never counted as visited. The simple reason was that all I remembered from the visit was the wild boar dish we had for dinner; it was delicious I believe.

I had tried some years ago to right this wrong and combine San Gimignano and Siena in a day trip. But Siena's charm had gripped me and I decided to forego the trip to San Gimignano and spent the full day in Siena instead.

Several years had passed when I finally arrived in San Gimignano. My expectations were rather high. This is the iconic fortified Tuscan mountain town. And truth be told: It's quite a site from the road when you pull up the hill by car or bus with all the towers rising to the sky from the city. Still, having been to Siena it felt rather underwhelming. It's really touristy and pretty small. In addition, there are plenty more Italian hill/mountain top fortified towns on the list and I can't really tell how San Gimignano distinguishes itself from other sites such as Pienza or Urbino, let alone Assisi.

Getting There

The closest train station is Poggiboni/San Gimignano. The city is another 12km from the station. There are busses running uphill directly in front of the station. You can buy the bus tickets at the bar in the train station. To save yourself the hassle also buy the return ticket. If you plan to return to Siena, you can continue on the same bus that is going down to Poggiboni from San Gimignano.

Buying tickets on the bus is possible, but you will pay more. The system is quite simple: The drivers only sell 2€ tickets and you need to buy as many till you reach or exceed the cost of the trip.

From Poggiboni you can connect West to Pisa, Volterra (T) and Lucca (T), North to Florence and the Medici Villas, and South to Siena, Val d'Orcia and Pienza.


Echwel

NL - 16-Mar-17 -

San Gimignano by echwel

If you’re serious about WHS-hunting make sure you pay a visit to Tuscany, Italy. In a relative small area you can find 7 top notch sites of which San Gimignano is one. Although most of you probably have seen your fair share of medieval towns this one really stands out, literally that is.

The unique thing about San Gimignano is its centuries old skyline. Back in medieval times there was a bit of trouble between the pope and the emperor who both wanted absolute power. They each had their own gang of supporters called Guelfi (popefans) and Ghibellini (emperorsupporters). The two rival sections were at eachother's throat and this let to the building of, in total, 72 defensive towers. Fourteen still stand.

Pilgrims on their way to Rome visited San Gimignano quite often. Not to pay hommage to the the town's godfather Gimignano but to a girl named Fina. Probably because the inhabatants felt they needed a new saint to please the travellers they came up with a girl named Fina, made her a saint and told stories about all the miracles she performed. It did wonders for the town's economy.

After a while the girl was forgotton too and the economy was declining. Luckily San Gimignano found a solution fot their problem. It was nominated to become a WHS. Surely when they had the Unesco-status everyone would find their way to town again....

Smart move

Read more from Echwel here.


Clyde

Malta - 07-Sep-12 -

San Gimignano by Clyde

I visited this WHS in November 2002. The City of Towers is striking both beneath the valley and inside the historic centre. The vineyards, valley, terracotta tiled rooftops and towers create a painting-like view from several kilometres away!


John booth

New Zealand - 15-Sep-11 -

San Gimignano by john booth

The haphazardly placed tower houses seemed to me to be an earthquake hazard. Maybe that is why there are no longer 72 standing. The walls and bastions seemed more structurally sound.

La Rocca was taken over by artists and musicians which provided a satisfying backdrop for my picnic lunch.

The nearest station to San Gimignano is at Poggibonsi, from where there are frequent buses to the Porta San Giovanni.


Isabel Salvatori

Mexico - 30-Jul-06 -

San Gimignano is a beautiful town that would take you to the middle ages in its lovely streets, astonishing towers and lovely piazzas. You can also get some gorgeous views of the Tuscan countryside by climbing the Torre Grossa and from the Rocca, an old fortress. Beautiful town well worth the visit


David Berlanda

Italy / Czech Republic - 18-Mar-06 -

San Gimignano by David Berlanda

In our trip to Tuscany we have visited the beautiful medieval market town of San Gimignano, situated on a hill of the Elsa Valley on the crossroads of the Pisana Road, that brought to the sea, and the ancient course of the Francigena Road, used by pilgrims to go to and from Rome, of which was a relay point. It was constructed by the bishops of Volterra in an area that was occupied in the ancient times by the Etruscans, became independent when had its first podestà (1199) and was prosperous until it was conquered by Florence, in 1353. In the 13th century it had 7000 inhabitants, like today, and 9 hospices for merchants. The change of the course of the Francigena Road and the rise of the nearby towns of Poggibonsi and Colle caused the economic decline of the town and the ending of all construction works until the 19th century. It was controlled by two major mercantile rival families, that were in conflict between them: the Ardinghelli, Guelph sympathizers, and the Salvucci, Ghibellines. They constructed 72 tower houses (14 still survive), some as high as 50 m, symbols of the town and of their wealth and power, protected since 1282 by a law that forbade their demolition unless for constructing nicer buildings. The walls, reconstructed in 1262 and reinforced later by five towers, have a perimeter of 2177 m and five gates: of St. John, with a nice arch, of Quercecchio, of St. Matthew, of St. James and alle Fonti. The Street of St. James contains the Romanesque Church of St. Francis and the palaces Pratellesi and Cugnanesi and brings to the triangular Square of the Cistern trough the Becci Arch, part of the first town walls. The square, constructed in 1273 and enlarged in 1346, has a herringbone paving edged with bricks and a nice well and is bordered by the towers Andrighelli (two twin buildings) and Benucci, the houses Razzi, with double windows, Salvestrini, Rodolfi and the palaces Cortesi and Tortoli-Treccani, with a high tower. The most important public and private buildings (also the twin towers Salvucci) are on the main Square of the Duomo. The Romanesque Collegiate Church, preceded by a long staircase, consecrated in 1148 and reconstructed in 1460 by Giuliano da Maiano, has three aisles divided by columns. On the internal façade are frescos by Taddeo di Bartolo and Benozzo Gozzoli and, on two brackets, sculptures made by Jacopo della Quercia and painted by Martino di Bartolomeo. On the walls of the side aisles are frescos by Lippo Memmi, Federico Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi and in the presbytery a ciborium by Benedetto da Maiano. He projected also the beautiful Renaissance Chapel of St. Fina, together with Giuliano da Maiano, and its altarpiece; there are also frescos by Domenico del Ghirlandaio e Sebastiano Mainardi. The Palace of the Podestà (it was also an inn and a theatre) has the towers Rognosa and Chigi and a nice lodge with a triple row of stone seats. The People’s Palace (town hall), constructed in 1288, enlarged in 1323 and crenellated in 1882, has the Large Tower, 54 m high, and a nice lodge with two arcades. Inside there is the Council Hall, with frescos by Lippo Memmi, the Hall of the Secret Meetings, with nice wooden seats and a sculpture made of terracotta, and the Podestà’s Hall, with frescos by Memmo di Filippuccio. In the church of St. Augustin are stunning frescos, masterpiece of Benozzo Gozzoli and Piero del Pollaiolo, and an altar made by Benedetto da Maiano. The Franzesi-Ceccarelli Palace has an asymmetrical façade that circumvented a law which stipulated that no new palaces should be wider than 12 armspans for a linear depth of 24 armspans. In the town are many other monuments: the Castle of Montestàffoli, with a nice tower, the house of St. Fina, the Pesciolini House, the Palace of the Provostship, the Oratory of St. Francis, the Convent of St. Clare, the Hospital of St. Fina and the churches of St. Lawrence in Ponte, St. James, St. Peter, St. Bartolo and St. Jerome.

This town is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen (even if I was disappointed by the fact that the major monuments were closed) because its medieval character and the beauty of the monuments. It’s absolutely worth to be visited (if you go there you must leave the car out of the centre) and justifies the inscription.

Photo: San Gimignano – Towers


Graeme Ramshaw

UK/US -

San Gimignano refuses to accept the fact that time has passed it by. Indeed, it has so fully adapted itself into a centre of tourism that it really has no need to welcome the modern world, except in the form of currency. It is known as the town of the towers, and, without dobut, the approach to the town as one drives from Florence, is astounding. The stone medieval towers dominate the skyline, while the bustle of tourists and merchants fills the streets below. It is these hulking structures that attract the busses of tourists, but, as with every Italian city, there is a wholy different attitude to be found among the little alleys and side streets of these towns. It is easy to forget, when one is touring Italy, that these towns are inhabited by ordinary people whose sole purpose in life is to watch and cheer on the Candians. But, yeah...we're still waiting on the room verdict.


Violet

Belgium -

Just to tell al of you, we had a wonderfull time out there!

It's like entering a different world, it's very impressive...

We found a room, very authentic en truly romantic...

The streets bring you to the middle ages, at night, all the tiny light on the walls give you the impression you're walking throuhg heaven on earth... a bit poetic, but I don't know how to discribe it otherwise!

San Gimignano is surrounded by beautiful nature, enjoy the view just outside the walls of the town!

That image is printed on your mind forever.

Just go there and you will know what I mean,

La Bella Italia, il vino bianco,

greets of Belgium!


Site Info

Full Name
Historic Centre of San Gimignano
Unesco ID
550
Country
Italy
Inscribed
1990
Type
Cultural
Criteria
1 3 4
Categories
Urban landscape - Medieval European
Link
By ID

Site History

1990 Referred

Assurances required regareding conservation plan + combatting effects of tourism

1990 Inscribed

Locations

The site has 1 locations

San Gimignano

Visitors

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Caroline A. Mehmet Haksever ALS AP-TW AYB Adolfo Afshin Iranpour Aitia Alberto Peterle Alessandro Votta Alex Pflugfelder Alexander Alexander Barabanov Alexander Lehmann Alfons and Riki Verstraeten Alias65 Alice DuCharme Alisha Aljaz Alliosoncita La unica Peruchita Altacyr Amy chin Amylaic@msn.com Andrea & Uwe Zimmermann Andreas Thum AndreasThum Angela Vandyck Antlane Argo Arianna Arjan Artworks Ashioleno Astrid Wagner Atcardamone Atila Ege Babysiew Bailon Ben Buckley Bertrand Bin Bob Finnie Bob Parda Bob pateman Bodil Ankerly Bojana Bartol Brigitte Huber Butterflybird Byronb Carlcam Carolinerowe25 Caspar Dechmann Celine Gramlich Cezar Grozavu ChenMing Chenboada Chenqtao Cheryl Chris Lee Christer Sundberg Christian Ochse Christian Wagner Cindy Casey Claire Bradshaw Clyde Cobaltrage Comensal Coppi Craig Harder Cristina Erba DL DMORMAR DMORMAR DOn Szumowski Dachangjin3 Dan Pettigrew Dani Cyr Daniela Hohmann Daveycanuck David Aaronson & Melanie Stowell David Berlanda David Gee Davied Dean Swift Devenyi Dgjohansson Dibro Dimitar Krastev Dimitrios Polychronopoulos Donna S Doug Robertson Echwel Elaine Ganderton Elia Vettorato Elias Ellen Nielsen Ellenmck Els Slots Enrico Cerrini Enrique Clemente Eric Lorentz Eric Lurio Eva Kisgyorgy Evajuk FK FS Fabi-ddorf Fan Yibo Farinelli FedeCambo Fedekiwi Feldhase Femke Roos Fmannucci Fool79 Frederik Dawson Fredrik Tjøgersen G. ingraham G.L. Ingraham Gary Arndt Geert Luiken Geo George Evangelou Gernot Gewo Gi Gianmarco Gianni Bianchini Gilles Gisella Gleembru Glubu Grimloch Gucsie Hadrianus Haining Guan Hamid Handballrama Hannes Muehlbacher Happyrini HaraldOest Hdimoshi Homadism Howard Howard Brayer Hsjamsil Hubert I&W Rohde IC Iain Jackson Ian Coldwell Ilya Burlak Inigo Cia Ivan Ivana Greslikova JBTOR Jacob Otten Jagnes Jakob Frenzel Jakubmarin James Hammond Jan-Willem Janina Lehmann Jarek Pokrzywnicki Jarrod_Byham Javier Coro Jean-Philippe Platroz JeanK Jeanne OGrady Jenni Jennifer Prout Jens Jessica Rademacher Jiangnan Cai Jianhui Song Joachim Nölte-Baumann Jochem Taanman Joel Baldwin John booth Jon Eshuijs Jonas Hagung Jonas Kremer Jordi Martinez Jorge fitzmaurice Jose Antonio Collar Josef Mikus Joyce van Soest João Aender Jtb105 Judit Dalla Judith Tanner Juergen Geiger Julianna Lees Julirose Gonzales Jun Jungliemonkey Kai Thorben Karina Karinmch Kasienka5 Kati Drimmer Kbecq Kelly Henry Kkralich Klmargit Koen Vliegenthart Krijn Krisztina zill Kutasp LKERPS LaVale Lale Eralp Turkey Lars Gunnar Gardo Laszlo Buga Leckie118 Leontine Helleman Lidb93 Linda Sereno Lisu Marian Lorenzo Mejino Luca Molinari Luciano Imperadori Ludvan Luigi Tura Luis Filipe Gaspar Lut & Theo MAURO PODDA MHasuly MMM MaYumin Mademmer Magnien Majkl20 Malgorzata Kopczynska Marcel Benard Marcel staron Mariaana Nelimarkka Marie Morlon Markus Marta Lempert Marthalfreeman Martin Funkhauser Martina Librio Martina Ruckova Marty Massimiliano croce Matejicek Mateusz Matthew Harris Matthewsharris Maureen Benefield Mauro Martino Mdnichol Merveil Mibive Michael Turtle Michal Marciniak Michele Armstrong Michelle Michiel Dekker Miguel Gallego Mikko Milan Jirasek Mistysmoke Monica Tasciotti Monika and Rini Morodhi Nadia Balduccio Nan Nanvano Naveed Panjwani Nicole P Nihal Ege Olivier MONGIN Omnisppot Oscar Martinez PabloNorte Parrot Pascal Cauliez Pat OBrien Patphilly Patricia Schiller Patrick C. Venenoso Patrick Matgen Patriks Patty Verhoeven Paul Chatterton Paul Schofield Paulfrancois Peltzi Peter Day Peter Loov PeterH Petteri Philipp Peterer Qin Xie Qqalexqq Rach Rob Randi Thomsen Rascleberry Ray matlock Reza Riccardo Quaranta RobRos Robin F. Roel Sterken Roger Ourset Rom Roman Koeln Roman Raab Ronald Lange Ronaldo Michels Rottenegg Rswood Ryan09sb Sabrina Liebehentschel Sally Galman Schnitzel Sergio Arjona Serimari Shandos Cleaver Shaun Ankers SirLoydd Solivagant Squiffy Stanislaw Warwas Stefan A. Michelfeit Stefan and Mia Stephanvermeulen Stetrab Su Yen Chen Sue hayton Super-Sophie Susan Stair Sutul Suzy OBrien Svermeulen Szabo Viktoria Szucs Tamas Tamara Ratz Tammy Gouldstone Theresa Goh Thibault Magnien Thijs van den Berg Thomas Buechler Thomas cahalan Thomas van der Walt Thorben Timallen Timothy C Easton Tom Flaten Tony0001 Tracy Dean Travel Addicts Travelindan Traveling Girl Trevni Truls Brekke Tsunami Uros Bonsek Uwagner ValiaVeweth Vanessa Buechler Victoria | Bridges and Balloons Vidiot Viv Vlad Lesnikov WHS Lux WILLIAM RICH Walter Walter H. Werner Huber Widy Heuver Willem van Altena William Quan Wojciech Fedoruk Wolfgang Hlousa WolfgangHl Yuri Samozvanov Zizmondka Zlatko Rihter Zoë Sheng Zsuzsanna Forray