Brief History about San Gimignano
is a small town in Siena province
in Italy. Also called Town of Fine Towers, the town has famous unique tower houses, which it has preserved for years. UNESCO
recognized it as a world heritage site in 1990.
Located on the ridge of a hill, the city is surrounded by three walls. The town was used as a stopping point for Catholic pilgrims heading to Vatican and Rome
during the renaissance era. It has ruins of a fortress, which was destroyed in the 16th century. The city can be accessed from three entrances. Its main gates are San Matteo, Porta S.Jacopo and Porta San Giovanni. The city has two main streets Via San Giovanni and Via San Matteo, which cuts across from the south to north. San Gimignano has well-constructed Gothic and Romanesque architecture. The city boasts of a number of towers dating from ancient times. They include Torri degli Ardinghelli
, Torre dei Becci, Torre Chigi, Torre di Palazzo Pellari, Torre Pettini, Torre del Diavolo, Torre Campatelli, Torre Grossa
and many more others. Some of these towers will be explained in details in this article. San’tAgostino and Collegiata serve as the two main places of worship around the area.
How to Arrive in San Gimignano-Tuscany
San Gimignano is well served with superb transportation networks .The town can be accessed through four means of transport. These are by car, plane, train and bus.
Arrival by Plane
Foreign visitors to San Gimignano-Tuscany can book airplanes from various destinations in their countries to Tuscany. Two international airports serve Tuscany. They are Galileo Galilei International airport located in Pisa and Amerigo Vespucci Airport in Florence. The latter is also called Peretola. The Galileo Galilei airport in Pisa is the largest and handles major flights and cargo from European cities. Foreign visitors from these cities can use this airport. Visitor from North America can make stopover routes in Europe before taking Ryan Air flights heading to Pisa. This will be relatively cheap and more affordable than direct flights. If there are no direct flights to the two airports in Tuscany, foreign visitors need to connect different airline that will land them in Tuscany
After landing in Pisa, one can use dual carriageways to exit from the Pisa airport. You choose to use the Genova-RosignanoA12 motorway, Firenze-Pisa-Livorno dual carriageway or Firenze-PisaA11.The Pisa airport terminal is linked to Pisa Central Station where one can take a train service.
Arrival by Coach or Bus
There are different alternatives of arriving in Tuscany by Bus services. Most buses head straight into Florence, Tuscany’s capital city. A number of buses are can be located in Santa Maria Novella, which is the main bus station in Florence. You can make your bookings of the bus tickets through Eurolines. This is an association of coach operators and their offices are widely distributed all over Europe. The ticket office is located at Piazza Adua.
Arrival by Car
Foreign visitors need to know these entry points into Italy;
From France there is Mont Blanc tunnel which leads to A5 for those going to Milan and Turin
Brenner Pass connects from Austria to the A22 to Bologna
Grand St. Bernard tunnel leading to A5
When coming from Pisa, follow the SGC Firenze-Pisa-Livorno direction. Keep driving until you reach Empoli Ovest then exit. Use the Castlefiorentino-Certaldo road signs, which will lead you to Certaldo. From Certaldo use San Gimignano road signs until you arrive at your destination of choice.
Arriving by Train
Tuscany can be reached through Trenitalia railway system, which connects with rest of European railway. Through overnight hauls, visitors can book a couchette on international trains. The main railway route connecting Tuscany through Florence is on Bologna-Rome line. Santa Maria Novella is the main station. It has direct international trains from various European cities. Departure and arrival schedules can be located from the Trenitalia timetable. Travel tickets are bought from train stations and travel agents.
Places and Monuments to See in San Gimignano-Tuscany
It is regarded as the most famous and beautiful piazza in San Gimignano. Medieval towers and a wall of nobility houses surround it. Bounded by Palazzo dei Cortesi and Torre del Diavolo to the north. It was named after a water cistern located at its Centre. Offers a good view out past the Arco dei Becci passageway. Has a unique layout made in 13th Century.
It is among the few remaining medieval towers in San Gimignano. The unsettling and mysterious name has legend meanings. The owner of the tower discovered it was taller than it was on a return trip. He attributed the magic to the devil thus deriving the name, "Tower of the Devil". The upper floor of the tower has a number of holes visible from the walls. The holes supported suspended timbers, which allowed people to walk outside and from one room to another. Holes in the walls served another security function of making it easy to dismantle the wall to deny an enemy access to the premises.
Any visitor to San Gimignano should never miss this one destination museum. It is a privately owned museum. It provides an artistic impression of how San Gimignano would have looked back in 1300.It shows how a traveller would have seen it from a hilltop. The reproduction is made purely from clay, baked and painted with natural pigments.
It is among the leading landmarks in San Gimignano. It is referred as Collegiata. It is the town’s main church .Has got numerous high quality 14th century paintings. Visitors are required to pay some charges for accessing it although discounts are offered to children.
Also called the courtyard. It was built in the 13th century and became the head office of the comune. It is believed to have been designed by sculptor Arnolfo di Cambio. Sala di Dante where the general council met is one of the famous rooms of Palazzo. It is well decorated with tournaments, allegorical figures and beautiful hunting scenes. Lippo Memmi produced great Virgin and child painting that has made Palazzo del Podesta famous. Sala delle Adunanze Segrete is where the citizen government met. It is from this room that the fascinating climb to Torre Grossa begins.
It is the entrance to Palazzo del Comune. It is well decorated with coat of arms representing the number of podesta that assumed leadership positions over the years. At the back of the courtyard is a well that was used to supply water. Justice was administered in the Loggia del Giudice (Loggia of the Judges).This Loggia has frescoes showing Saint Ivone ,the Lawyers patron overseeing justice to the poor while the rich standing at the door with gifts. Antonio Bazzi made this artistic work in 1500. Leonardo da Vinci School inspired Antonio. A fresco of justice allegory above the stairway shows a judge dismissing a liar.
The Museo Civico is a home of prestigious artworks from Siena and Florence. Most of the work is donated from the religious buildings around the city and from the entire public. It has various crucifixes and biblical scenes. Impressive panel painting done by Taddeo di Bartolo portraying San Gimignano can be found here. The surrounding walls give some brief description of him and how he was like in 1400.
The ruins can be seen from the south limit of San Gimignano municipal area. It was a very crucial civilian and military settlement in the past. It was formerly known as Castrum Vetus. In 1995, Castlelvecchio was officially recognized as a cultural heritage. Foreign visitors need to tour this place and appreciate how San Gimingnano and Italy at large was operating before modernization.
Special calendar events
San Gimignano observes various dates in the calendar year to celebrate and remember the contribution of icon leaders of the town. An example of such event is on every first Sunday of August held by the citizens of San Gimignano for their Patron Saint Fina. The Basilica Santa Maria Assunta with the help of municipal authorities organizes the ceremony. The second one is the San Gimignano Medieval Festival. It is held every month of June for three days. Foreigners touring San Gimignano at this time can reschedule their plans to attend and appreciate such ceremonies.
This is another fascinating monument in San Gimignano.It contains the works of famous sculptors like Giuliano da Maiano, Benedetto da Maiano and Bartolommeo di Fredi. It also has several beautiful ceramics and funerary urns made from Etruscan. Foreigners cannot afford to miss visiting this place while in San Gimignano!
San Gimignano in Tuscany is a great place to tour. The area is well served with good transportation network that facilitate visitors movements around the town. The town has numerous monuments and ancient towers that are fascinating to visit. They help one appreciate how the Italian people were living before modernization. Visitor touring San Gimignano should make an effort of visiting at least some of these places if they want to enjoy their tours.