Brief Guides of:
Colle val d'Elsa
San Gimignano is situated in Tuscany, halfway
between Siena and Florence. Today it is a town that still preserves its
ancient medieval layout. It experienced great importance and economic growth
during the Middle Ages, thanks to the Via Francigena, the ancient way walked
by pilgrims who went to Rome from northern Europe. It is called the Town of
the Towers because in the past it had up to 72 Tower-houses and 14 still survive.
San Gimignano contains many remains and several works of 14th and 15th
century Italian art, especially from the Sienese and Florentine schools. Piazza
del Duomo is the heart of the town and it hosts the Palazzo del Podestą, the
Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) and the Duomo. Throughout the centuries, Piazza
del Duomo represented the focal point of San Gimignano where all
celebrations took place and where the municipal power was seated. Two towers
rise up in the square: Torre Grossa and Torre Rognosa. Nowadays, it continues to
preserve its ancient role and is still one of the focal points of the
- Duomo, Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta: Three
nave aisle church dating back to the 12th century. The rich interior with
frescoed walls by famous painters contribute to make this church a
unique testimony of its ancient past. Works of art by Bartolo di Fredi,
Taddeo di Bartolo, Ghirlandaio and wooden sculptures by Jacopo della
- Town Hall: It overlooks Piazza del Duomo with its
52 mt high tower, called "Torre Grossa", the highest tower in
the town, from which it is possible to have a wonderful view. It hosts the
civic museum with many works of art. Worthy of note are the "Annunciazione" by
Filippo Lippi, (1482), the "Crucifix" by Marcovaldo (1260), the
tabernacle of Santa Fina, the patron saint of San Gimignano and
"Madonna in Gloria", painted by Pinturicchio in 1512. Of particular
interest is the "Sala di Dante" where visitors can admire the "Maestą"
by Lippo Memmi, painted in 1317 along with several other frescoes.
- Palazzo del Podestą: It dates back to 1239, is
characterised by a stone and brick facade and by a high tower called "La
Rognosa". Inside, on the central wall, is the "Madonna con Bambino" (Our
Lady with child), a lovely fresco by Sodoma.
- Museum of Sacred Art: It lies on the left side of
the Duomo of San Gimignano and houses many paintings, silverware and
holy vestments along with some works of art.
- Archaeologic Museum: Many
Etruscan, Roman and medieval finds are on display inside. Several unusually shaped cinerary
- Spezieria di Santa Fina: Ancient books of
prescriptions, as well as, ancient ceramics and glass. It displays
several rare pharmacy vases dating back to the 15th century in which
ancient medicinal substances utilised to make drugs are still preserved.
- Museum of Torture: Rich collection of more than
100 torture machines (instruments of torture) which date from
the 12th to the 16th century.
- Sant' Agostino: Gothic Romanesque church built in
1280 characterised by a very nice marble altar by Benedetto da
Maiano. It is one of the most beautiful Renaissance works of art. Several
frescoes by Pollaiolo and Ghirlandaio are on the walls. (Madonna with
child). The principal work is represented by the frescoes of the choir
painted by Benozzo Bozzoli between 1461 and 1464 showing the life of St.
- Piazza della Cisterna: Very beautiful triangullaly
shaped square with a nice travertine well in the center of the red brick
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
white wine, the Vernaccia has ancient origins and was the first Italian
wine to receive the DOC prize in 1966, the highest distinction that can be
granted to an Italian wine. It is produced utilising grapes that are grown
exclusively in the San Gimignano area. It is served as an aperitif,
as well as, with white meats or fish dishes.
has been cultivated in San Gimignano since the Middle-Ages and was always of great
importance for the economy of the area. It is utilised for rice dishes.
Ceramics: Along the streets of San Gimignano many
shops offer their hand-made ceramics and hand painted
Salami: You can also find in San Gimignano a wide variety
of traditional Tuscan salami. Don't miss tasting the wild boar one.
31 January - Feast of the City Patron Saint: San
Gimignano. Traditional fair.
12 March - Festival of Santa Fina
Patron Saint of San Gimignano. Traditional fair.
International Festival: the municipality organises several spectacles,
lyric performances, concerts and ballets.
Look at the map