San Gimignano

The 13 out of the original 76 towers that dominate San Gimignano's majestic skyline were built by noble families in the 12th and 13th centuries, when the town's position - on the main pilgrim route from northern Europe to Rome - brought it great prosperity. The plague of 1348 led to its decline as well as its preservation.

The towers were symbols of the power and wealth of the city's medieval families as well as a private fortress. San Gimignano is surrounded by lush and productive land and the setting is altogether enchanting as you climb the hill from the east looking in the distance at the striking view of the medieval "Manhattan".

At the top of Via  San Giovanni you come into Arco dei Becci, a medieval arch that stands in the village's original set of walls. The arch opens into Piazza della Cisterna, which takes its name from the medieval well and dates back to 1237.

Adjoining the square to the north is Piazza del Duomo, home to the best of the village's historic sights. On its western flank stands the Collegiata, with renowned frescoes. West of Piazza del Duomo, you should wander to the Rocca (1353), a ruined castle with outstanding views of the countryside.

TIPS

  • San Gimignano is famous for its light white wine which is called Vernaccia. The local speciality is wild boar.
  • Though gruesome, the Torture Museum is of interest.
  • Try to avoid Sunday afternoon as it is usually packed with Italians as well as visitors and try to go in the evening.