San Gimignano, the town of beautiful towers, lies in a picturesque
position on a hill dominating the Val d'Elsa, inhabited since
the times of the Etruscans. This town went through the most prosperous
period of its history towards the end of the Middle Ages when the
urban civilisation flourished.
that are guarded by ancient buildings, its narrow and shady alleys
and the soaring slender towers all create the character of this
stunning town. Only 15 of the original 72 towers are intact.
In the centre of the town is a square called Cisterna
which is surrounded by ancient and towered palaces. In the middle,
on massive stony steps, is the Cirsterna, an elegant public fountain
built in 1273. The square of the Cathedral (Duomo) is the oldest
part of San Gimignano. The mighty towers of the Salvucci, the Mayor's
palaces and the simple, bare façade of the Collegiata, flanked
with the Torre Grossa (Big Tower) and the 13th century new Palace
of the Mayor, make this square one of the best preserved scenes
of medieval architecture.
San Gimignano is small enough to be explored in
a day (there is virtually no traffic) but it also makes a good base
for country walks. It's a delightful place to shop with two
main streets lined with speciality outlets selling almost everything.
Several shops also sell the local wine, and the tourist office sells
posters of local sights.
Eating out in San Gimignano is wonderful. You
will no doubt discover classical Renaissance dishes on some menus
as well as typical Tuscan dishes.