Exploring San Gimignano
This Piazza (image above), entered from Via San Giovanni, is the main square of the town. It is triangular in shape and is
surrounded by medieval houses of different dates, among them some fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic palazzos. At the centre of the
piazza stands a well which was the main source of water for the town's residents. The structure dates from 1346. Although much of it has
been renewed in the late 20th century, parts of the paving date from the 13th century.
Only a 42 kilometer drive from Siena (via Raccordo Autostradale Firenze & SR68/SP44). We had read about this area and Castel San Gimignano during our Italy trip research phase, and decided that since it was on the way to Livorno, that this would be a good place to visit to break up the drive.
San Gimignano Coat of ArmsImage is the property of Heraldry of the World
Some Facts about San Gimignano
- The ancient village gets its name from the Saint Gimignano.
- Best Gelato In The World at the Artisan Gelato shop in the main square.
- San Gimignano is also known as the city of beautiful towers; in fact once there were 72 towers within the walls now there are only 14 towers remaining.
- The Black Plague essentially ruined the City. A significant portion of the population were killed and caused many people to flee the area.
- During medieval times, Catholic pilgrims who were heading to the Vatican and Rome usually stopped here, because the town is located on the ancient road known as Via Francigena.
- San Gimignano saffron has been grown in this area since ancient times and is highly regarded as some of the best in the world.
First Views of San Gimignano
These are the kinds of views of the village that we got as we drove up on the Italian SP1 highway (Via San Gimignano), surrounded by miles of lush agriculture, trees and a surprising lack of traffic.
It is only a 55 kilometer drive from Siena to San Gimignano, but the route was so scenic & traffic free, that it did not feel like we had driven very far at all.
Exploration of San Gimignano
It is a small walled medieval hill town in the province of Siena, Tuscany, north-central Italy. Known as the Town of Fine Towers, San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture, unique in the preservation of about a dozen of its tower houses, which, with its hilltop setting and encircling walls, form an unforgettable skyline.
A Village Surrounded by Vineyards
San Gimignano is surrounded by farm lands and vineyards. The village is famous for it's white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape which is grown on the sandstone hillsides of the area.
Since San Gimignano is somewhat of a "living museum", the streets are narrow and cobble stoned as originally constructed. Within the walls, the well-preserved buildings include notable examples of both Romanesque and Gothic architecture, with outstanding examples of secular buildings as well as churches. The Palazzo Comunale, the Collegiate Church and Church of Sant' Agostino contain frescos, including cycles dating from the 14th and 15th centuries.
San Gimignano is primarily pedestrian-only, so no need for dodging cars or buses! However it should be noted that walking on cobblestone can be very tiring if you do not have good shoes on!
Collegiate Church of San Gimignano
It is a Roman Catholic collegiate church and minor basilica situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart.
The church is famous for its fresco cycles which include works by Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Taddeo di Bartolo, Lippo Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi. The basilica is located within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Historic Centre of San Gimignano", with its frescos being described by UNESCO as "works of outstanding beauty".
San Gimignano Town Hall ("Palazzo Comunale")
The town hall building is immediately to the left of the Collegiate Church (the Duomo).
The Palazzo Comunale also known as the Palazzo del Popolo of San Gimignano has been the seat of the civic authority in the comune since the 13th century. It is located on the Piazza del Duomo adjacent to the Collegiate Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The building and Collegiate Church are at the heart of the medieval town, and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Historic Centre of San Gimignano".
San Gimignano is headed by a mayor (sindaco) assisted by a legislative body, the consiglio comunale, and an executive body, the giunta comunale. Since 1995 the mayor and members of the consiglio comunale are directly elected together by resident citizens, while from 1945 to 1995 the mayor was chosen by the legislative body.
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