"San Gimignano delle belle torri" Top 5 Page for this destination San Gimignano by MM212

San Gimignano Travel Guide: 406 reviews and 1,246 photos

San Gimignano delle belle torri - of the beautiful towers - is how this mediaeval hilltop Tuscan town is known, a title well-deserved for stunning San Gimignano once possessed as many as 72 towers that pierced the sky like modern skyscrapers. Although only 14 of the 72 towers remain today, the town looks much the same as it has since its long gone apogee of the 13th century, with its towers still dominating the surrounding Tuscan skyline.

It is known that an Etruscan settlement was established on the site as early as the 3rd century BC. By the 10th century AD, the town was named San Gimignano after the bishop saint of Modena, Geminianus, who had defended it against the invading Huns in the 6th century AD. The town grew in importance with the establishment of Via Francigena, the road which cut through the town and transported pilgrims and Crusaders from as far as England to Rome, and then eventually to Jerusalem. With pilgrim traffic came commerce, prosperity and wealth, leading San Gimignano to declare independence from Volterra in 1199. In the following one and a half centuries, its inhabitants, the sangimignanesi, lived a golden age that saw rapid expansions and extravagant constructions. Its prominent families piled up wealth, but were split between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, supporters of the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in their struggle for power. The rivalry between these families was not only political, but architectural as well: families built towers in competition with each other to assert their own power and dominance. It all came to an end with the plague of 1348, which wiped out the majority of San Gimignano's population. The town had no choice but to submit to Florence as it could no longer sustain its independence. However, it is this early decline that allowed San Gimignano to preserve its mediaeval character and architecture for us to admire to this day, and that made the whole town worthy of being listed as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.

San Gimignano makes a perfect day trip from either Florence or Siena. A few hotels are also available for those wishing to stay longer who may be rewarded by sampling more of the city's numerous restaurants. Whether one passes by or stays here, San Gimignano is a must-see for anyone travelling through the Tuscan countryside.

Road Trip through Italy itinerary - May 2009:

Roma - Siena - San Gimignano - la Spezia - Portovenere - San Remo - Cannes - Portofino - Santa Margherita - Pisa - Roma

  • Last visit to San Gimignano: May 2009
  • Intro Updated May 13, 2010
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Reviews (30)

Comments (4)

  • angiebabe's Profile Photo
    Sep 1, 2009 at 3:06 AM

    I so wanted to get here but ran out of time eye boggling my way around other places nearby! have to get back though! Youve got the place well captured here with great pics&excellent writeup!Imagine how amazing it mustve been when all 72 towers were up!

  • TheWanderingCamel's Profile Photo
    Aug 24, 2009 at 6:59 AM

    A hotel in SG is definitely the way to go! The day visitors are all gone by 5pm. Sunset on the towers is magic. Your page here brings back good memories. Thanks - leyle

  • breughel's Profile Photo
    Jun 29, 2009 at 1:41 PM

    Très belle page sur une ville qui m'avait d'abord un peu déçue. Je m'attendais (candidement) à 72 tours! Lors d'une seconde visite j'ai appris à l'aimer.

  • Tijavi's Profile Photo
    Jun 22, 2009 at 7:57 AM

    I opted to chill out in Siena the day I planned to see this town - my loss. Would have loved to climb Torre Grossa and be a mad shutter-happy tourist!

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