The foundation of San Gimignano dates back to ancient times. According to legend, in 63 B.C. two brothers, Muzio and Silvio, two young patricians escaping from Rome after their implication in the conspiracy of Catiline, sheltered in Valdelsa and built two castles: the Castle of Mucchio and the Castle of Silvia, which would develop in the future San Gimignano. The first historical document mentioning the name of the town is dated 30th August 929, when Ugo di Provenza donated to the Bishop of Volterra the so-called Mount of the Tower “prope Sancto Geminiano adiacente” (next to San Gimignano). The name of San Gimignano probably comes from the bishop of Modena.

San Gimignano rises on top of a hill 334m above sea level, clearly visible in the distance with its many towers. Today 13 towers remain of the 72 towers of the fourteenth century, when every well off family built a tower to show its economical power (many of them are still visible in the buildings, even if they were cut off).

Its international fame it not only due to its architectural uniqueness, but also to the richness and importance of the artwork present and the celebrated Vernaccia white wine, produced exclusively in the area. According to tradition, the grape vines seem to have been brought to the town of San Gimignano by Vieri de’ Barbi, a man from Liguria, in the 1200s. The Vernaccia wine was the first white wine in Tuscany to receive the DOCG label in 1993.

The Duomo in San Gimignano was built in 1148 and is considered one of the most beautiful museums in Tuscany. Built with three naves, the Duomo features frescoes from the Scuola Fiorentina: San Sebastiano (Benozzo Gozzoli), the story of Santa Fina di Domenico Ghirlandaio and the Statua Lignee della Quercia. The Palazzo Comunale, which was the old public authority building, is also very interesting. It is now home to the civic museum and gallery, where there are artworks on display by Pinturicchio, Benozzo, Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino. Inside the Palazzo Comunale you can visit the Dante Room which contains the Maestà di Lippi Memmia. You can also go up the tower, called the Torre del Podestà or Torre Grossa, which is 54 metres high and dates back to 1311.


CURIOSITY:  in 1990 the city centre was declared heritage of humanity by UNESCO, and its Saffron production id well-known since the Middle Age with the name San Gimignano’s Gold.


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