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San Gimignano PDF Print E-mail

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History, art and culture


Located on the top of a hill dominating the Elsa Valley, San Gimignano is a must for any tourist visiting the Chianti area, as it is in the centre of the triangle Firenze - Siena - Volterra. Due to its preservation, San Gimignano is among the most charming towns in Tuscany.
From its medieval towers (nowadays 14, but originally 72, according to the tradition) it earned the name of “Town of beautiful towers”. In the Middle Ages the tower was the maximum symbol of power, especially because its construction was not easy nor cheap and only wealthy families could afford it, in order to show their economic strength.


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San Gimignano (already ancient Etruscan settlement) begins its history around X Century, earning its name from the Saint Bishop of Modena, who according to the legend saved the village from the Barbarians. The town developed in the Middle Ages, thanks to the Via Francigena that goes through it. In 1199 the town had remarkably increased and became a free city-state. San Gimignano, as many neighbouring towns, was involved in the Guelf-Ghibelline conflict (between Pope's and Emperor's supporters) . Independence was maintained with big efforts up to 1354, when San Gimignano submitted to Florentine Republic, beginning to live in Firenze's shade. Decline and plague decreased population and activities and in 17th Century San Gimignano became a rural area of Medici Grand Duchy.  Towers and palaces fell into ruin or got damaged. Only in recent times the town has been able to protect and promote its artistic and historic heritage, so that it has been put in UNESCO's heritage list.



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