While the city of Siena offers a huge artistic and historical heritage, with the beautiful Cathedral and Piazza del Campo, the surrounding area treasures many jewels: old towns and medieval monasteries lying on the gentle hills of the Chianti area.
Wine, great food, and a medieval metropolis…
Within 50 kilometers from Siena you can experience beautiful landscapes, outstanding wines, an extra virgin olive oil which is probably one of the best in the world and… a town which was a sort of New York before its time: San Gimignano, city of beautiful towers.
A trip through time: from Siena to San Gimignano
While travelling from Siena to San Gimignano you can feel around you thousands of years of history. Places like Monteriggioni – originally a medieval fortress – or Colle Val d’Elsa, the birthplace of Arnolfo di Cambio, one of the “fathers” of the Renaissance are on your way to San Gimignano.
Its origin dates to the Etruscan civilization, but it is in the Middle Ages and Renaissance that San Gimignano becomes an important town on the Via Francigena, the pilgrim route running from France to Rome.
In 1199 San Gimignano becomes an independent “Comune” (the word “Comune” means now “municipality”, but in the Middle Ages the word meant basically an independent city – state).
As for many others “Comuni” in the same period the town will see the conflict between Guelphs (supporting the Popes) and Ghibellines (supporting the Emperor).
But in San Gimignano the conflict will reach new… “heights”!
My tower is taller than yours! Medieval skyscrapers
The rivalry between Guelphs and Ghibellines families resulted in building tower houses of increasing height. San Gimignano had up to 72 towers.
The Black Death in 1348 and the submission to Florence signed the decline of San Gimignano’s political influence; nevertheless, the city of beautiful towers is a beautiful medieval town and sixteen towers still stand out against the sky under the Chianti hills.