The only look at the San Gimignano silhouette and many ancient medieval towers will make it clear to you why this village is often called "Medieval Manhattan."
The towers and textbook beauty of the town make it an abundantly frequented place, but it keeps its charm. Here you will find a remarkable gallery, two churches with great frescoes and a wonderful, long view of the Tuscan countryside
The renowned Sangimignan towers began to appear around 1150. They served for various purposes, sometimes practical, sometimes rather bizarre. In their most basic form, they provided a ready-made defensive site where they could be retrieved in the event of attacks in times of civil unrest. But they were also a medieval expression of the state: the power of the noble family and the extent of its wealth could be measured according to the height of its tower, especially when it was larger than the rivals' towers.
But neither the towers nor the power of the individual had anything to do with the plague or the permanent turmoil that gradually weakened the power of the city. In 1348, when the city commune was fatally weakened, she decided to go under the protection of Florence. This transition diminished the power of the nobility, which is one of the reasons why so many towers survived - when they were no threat, there was no reason to take them away.
Many people head to San Gimignano for a day trip from Siena, often by bus or train. San Gimignano is suitable for pedestrian exploration, since from one end of the village to the other it can be reached in a few minutes.
Most of the important places lie in the central square of Piazza del Duomo or nearby, but you should also spend a lot of time in this place on random walks. Start your journey along Via Roma and Piazzale dei Martiri di Monte Maggio at the southern gate, Porta San Giovanni, and then head north after Via San Giovanni. This street was once part of Via Francigena, the main pilgrimage route connecting Rome with northern Europe.
The location of San Gimignano directly on this route was one of the reasons for the early rise and prosperity of the small town. Halfway up, stop in the desolate Romanesque temple of the 13th century, San Francesco, which, like many other places in the city, now serves to sell the local white wine of Vernaccia. Its rear terrace offers beautiful views of the Tuscan hills.
At the top of the street, the Arco dei Becci passage will take you from the two main squares, Piazza Della Cisterna and Piazza del Duomo. The first of the square is surrounded by towers, medieval buildings, and several tempting cafes. On the other, you will find the village's major sights: Collegiata and Museo Civico. There is also the Museo d'Arte Sacra. The Arco dei Becci was once part of the original defensive wall of the town and was built before the 13th century formed a second fortification ring, closing the flourishing city. Piazza Della Cisterna was named after the city well, a tanker that was built in the center of the square in 1287 and was extended in 1346 on the orders of the city's chief representative, Gucci de'Malavolti, whose coat of arms also decorated this place. Notice the grooves that over the centuries have created ropes to draw water buckets.
To the left of Piazza Della Cisterna lies Piazza del Duomo. Directly in front of you, above the stairs, stands the Collegiate. On the left is Pallazo del Popolo (1288), where the Information Center and Museo Civico are located, and the Palazzo del Podesta (1239) stands behind you. The Palazzo del Podesta - Torre Della Rognosa - also reached the city regulations from 1255, when it determined the maximum height that could have reached the private towers (52 meters). Many nobles ignored this order or somehow tempted it, as documented by Torre Salvucci Towers (to the left of the palace if you face it). The Salvucci family built towers that did not reach the maximum permissible heights but placed them so close together that it was obvious that the sum of their heights would be greater than anything that the city council or competing families.