Historic Centre of San Gimignano - History and Facts | History Hit

Historic Centre of San Gimignano

The medieval city may be small, but it is a truly fascinating site that should not be overlooked. With a unique skyline and great wine, it will prove to be a delight for any visitor.

Teet Ottin

05 Jan 2023
Image Credit: astudio / Shutterstock.com

About Historic Centre of San Gimignano

This beautiful medieval Italian town is most famous for its numerous tall stone towers, built by rival noble families to showcase their wealth and power. The historic centre of San Gimignano was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990.

The history of San Gimignano

Situated roughly 35 miles (56 km) south of Florence, the town served as an important relay point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome. San Gimignano derived its name from the Bishop of Modena who saved the settlement from a barbarian invasion in 450 AD. Following the fragmentation of the Italian peninsula during the Middle Ages, the town became an independent republic, dominated by two powerful noble families. The 14th century would see the eventual decline of San Gimigano, brought about by plagues ravaging the local population. The town would eventually find itself under the influence of Florence.

The affluent families of San Gimignano indulged themselves in lavish building projects, which included the building of 72 stone towers, of which 14 remain to this day. The towers signalled the standing and prestige of each family, though most of them have collapsed over the centuries due to poor foundations.

Historic Centre of San Gimignano today

San Gimignano is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Italy, with many beautiful Gothic and Romanesque buildings surviving in prime condition. Besides the famous towers there is also the Palazzo Comunale, which houses the civic museum and picture gallery of the town.

Another standout is the Romanesque Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, a minor basilica. It houses a stunning collection of Renaissance frescos by artists including Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Taddeo di Bartolo, Lippo Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi.

Sam Gimignano is also well known for its stellar white wine, making it a must visit site for wine aficionados.

Getting to the Historic Centre of San Gimignano today

There are multiple ways to reach the medieval town. You can take the train from Florence Santa Maria Novela train station to Poggibonsi train station. From there you will have to catch the local bus #130, which runs from Siena to San Gimignano. The whole journey should not take more than 80 minutes.