San Gimignano

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San Gimignano
coat of arms
San Gimignano (Italy)
San Gimignano
Country Italy
region Tuscany
province Siena  (SI)
Coordinates 43 ° 28 '  N , 11 ° 3'  E Coordinates: 43 ° 28 '0 "  N , 11 ° 3' 0"  E
height 324  m slm
surface 138.8 km²
Residents 7,717 (Dec. 31, 2019)
Population density 56 inhabitants / km²
Post Code 53037
prefix 0577
ISTAT number 052028
Popular name Sangimignanesi
Patron saint San Gimignano and Santa Fina (January 31st)
Website San Gimignano
Panorama of San Gimignano
Panorama of San Gimignano

San Gimignano is a small Italian town in Tuscany with a medieval town center . San Gimignano is also called "Medieval Manhattan" or the "City of Towers". The city is located in the province of Siena and has 7717 inhabitants (as of December 31, 2019). Along with Florence , Siena and Pisa, it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tuscany.


The historic city center has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990 . San Gimignano still has some of the medieval towers that have only survived as stumps in other cities. In the Middle Ages the patrician families tried to outdo each other in the height of their gender tower, although a luxurious life was not possible there. Fifteen of the 72 towers that were built in the family still exist in San Gimignano today. The two highest, the Torre Grossa from 1311 and the Torre della Rognosa, are 54 and 51 meters high. The cistern on the Piazza della Cisterna was built in 1287 and expanded in 1346 by the Podestà Guccio Malavolti.


Location of the municipality of San Gimignano in the province of Siena

The city is located about 40 km southwest of the regional capital Florence and about 28 km northwest of the provincial capital Siena on the Via Francigena and in the Elsa Valley . San Gimignano is in the climatic classification of Italian municipalities in zone D, 2 085 GR / G.

The districts include Badia a Elmi (94 m, part of Certaldo), Castel San Gimignano (377 m, part of Colle di Val d'Elsa), Pancole (272 m), Santa Lucia (268 m) and Ulignano . Other important places in the municipality are Montauto (277 m), Monteoliveto (275 m) Ranza and San Donato (357 m). The largest district is Ulignano with about 690 inhabitants.

The most important rivers in the municipality are the Elsa (4 of 81 km in the municipality), the Torrenti Foci (4 of 15 km in the municipality) and Riguardi . (7 of 7 km in the municipal area).

The neighboring municipalities are Barberino Tavarnelle ( FI ), Certaldo (FI), Colle di Val d'Elsa , Gambassi Terme (FI), Poggibonsi and Volterra ( PI ).


San Gimignano is said to have been around 300 to 200 BC. Be settled by the Etruscans . The place was first documented in 929. The city received its name from the holy bishop of Modena , San Gimignano . It is said that he protected the village from the barbaric hordes of Totila .

This city owes its existence to the Via Francigena (Frankenstrasse). Merchants and pilgrims traveled from the north to Rome on this main route of medieval Italy . The place was formed as a market place between the early medieval Castello and the Pieve , the previous building of the Collegiata . A first city wall ring was created in the 10th century. Its course is marked by two preserved city gates, in the north the Arco della Cancelleria and in the south the Arco dei Becci.

Torre Rognosa and Palazzo del Podestá, Piazza del Duomo

From the 11th century onwards, the urban area expanded along Frankenstrasse in a north and south direction. Via di Castello, one of the oldest streets, and the church of San Lorenzo, which was by the drawbridge, remind of the existence of the former Castello. From at least 929 the fort belonged to the bishops of Volterra . It was these bishops who ruled the expanding city. It was not until 1199 that the consuls elected by the citizens succeeded in signing contracts without the consent of the bishop. San Gimignano was never a bishopric and only belonged to the ecclesiastical administrative district (diocese) of Volterra and thus did not obtain any city rights. Nevertheless, the political development of the rural commune proceeded in similar steps as that of the big cities. The government of the consuls was replaced by the Podestà (an elected administrator). This was supported by a small and a large council. The great council had a remarkably high number of 1200 members, although San Gimignano only had 6000 inhabitants.

The free commune fought with the bishops of Volterra in long-term wars over property rights until the 14th century. She had to go to the field against the neighboring towns of Castelfiorentino , Colle and Poggibonsi and took part in the great power struggles of the 13th century on the side of Florence in Guelph . The fighting between Guelphs ( Welfen ) and Ghibellines (Waiblinger) continued within the city walls . There were bloody family feuds between the families of the Salvucci (Ghibellines) and the Ardinghelli (Guelphs).

From May 1300 Dante Alighieri was on a diplomatic mission in San Gimignano. From June 15 to August 15, 1300 he served as one of six members of the priory, the city's highest body. In 1319 he tried in vain in his function as a leading Florentine politician to reconcile the warring parties. A commune like San Gimignano could no longer assert itself next to the great powers in the 14th century. In 1348, the city was severely weakened by the plague, besides war losses and family feuds . Four years later, in 1352, the city came under the protection of Florence.

The city's heyday lasted 160 years and its prosperity was based on trade and the cultivation of saffron , which was used to dye silk fabrics. The Frankenstrasse gradually lost its importance in the late Middle Ages, because trade preferred the more convenient routes through the largely drained swamps of the plains. The city that had once passed laws against excessive luxury was becoming impoverished.

High Renaissance (approx. 1500 to 1530) and Baroque (1575 to 1770) left almost no traces in San Gimignano. The city was never an art center in its own right. Artists from Siena and Florence painted the frescoes and altar panels. The palaces and churches show Pisan, Sienese, Lucchese and Florentine style features. In San Gimignano time apparently stopped in 1563. The first of the Tuscan Grand Dukes, Cosimo I de 'Medici , decided that “even small sums” may no longer be invested in this city. That had to be accepted, and so San Gimignano has remained as it was then.


In the town center


  • Palazzo del Popolo (also Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Nuovo del Podestá ), located on Cathedral Square, built 1288–1323 with paintings and frescoes by Lippo Memmi and Sodoma as well as with the 54 m high Torre Grossa. Today it houses the town hall of the municipality.
  • Palazzo del Podestá , former town hall on Cathedral Square opposite the Cathedral.
  • Palazzo Pratellesi , Via San Giovanni, was built in the 14th century. Contains the fresco Sposalizio di Santa Caterina d'Alessandria e Santi by Vincenzo di Benedetto di Chele Tamagni (1528).
  • Rocca di Montestaffoli , today's castle ruins with garden. Lies within the city walls and was built between 1353 and 1358 by the lords from Florence above the ancient market square (11th century) and the Dominican convent (from 1332). It was taken over as a fortress in 1558 by Cosimo I de 'Medici .


The towers of San Gimignano

The gender towers include:

  • Torri degli Ardinghelli (double tower, Piazza della Cisterna)
  • Torre dei Becci (13th century, Via degli Innocenti / Piazza della Cisterna)
  • Torre Campatelli (Via San Giovanni)
  • Torre Chigi (previously Torre Useppi , built in 1280, Piazza Duomo)
  • Torre dei Cugnanesi (13th century, Via San Giovanni)
  • Torre del Diavolo (part of the Palazzo dei Cortesi , Piazza della Cisterna)
  • Torre Ficarelli (Via San Giovanni)
  • Torre Grossa (part of the Palazzo del Popolo , 54 m, Piazza Duomo)
View from the Torre Grossa to the Piazza della cisterna (east-southeast)
  • Torre Pettini (Via Oro / Via San Matteo)
  • Torre Rognosa (51 m, also Torre dell'Orologio or Torre del Podestà , Piazza Duomo)
  • Torri dei Salvucci (twin towers, 13th century, Piazza Duomo)

City fortifications

Porta San Giovanni

The first city wall ring was built around 929 and surrounded the present-day Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Cisterna. The second city wall ring was built by 1214 and is largely identical to today's city walls. In 1251 there was a small extension of the western city walls at the Rocca di Montestaffoli, 1261-1263 an eastern extension that included the area around the monastery of San Domenico (then Santo Stefano) in the city walls. The Bastion Bastione San Francesco was built in the 16th century. The city gates include:

  • Porta San Giovanni , the city gate of the second wall ring, was completed in 1262.
  • Porta delle Fonti , city gate of the second wall ring.
  • Porta Quercecchio , city gate of the second wall ring.
  • Porta San Matteo , the city gate of the second wall ring, was completed in 1262.
  • Porta San Jacopo , city gate of the second wall ring.
  • Arco dei Becci , city gate of the first wall ring (Via San Giovanni / Piazza della Cisterna).
  • Arco della Cancelleria , city gate of the first ring of walls (Via San Matteo).


Collegiata Santa Maria Assunta
San Francesco
  • Collegiata Santa Maria Assunta ; Former cathedral from the 12th century, consecrated in 1148, expanded in 1466 by Giuliano da Maiano , has frescoes from the 14th and 15th centuries, including those restored in 1832 by Domenico Ghirlandaio , as well as frescoes by Bastiano Mainardi , Taddeo di Bartolo and Benozzo Gozzoli .
  • Sant'Agostino , church built from 1280 to 1298 with 17 frescoes from the life of St. Augustine by Benozzo Gozzoli (1463–65).
  • San Bartolo , probably originated in the 12th century. The facade dates from the 13th century.
  • Santa Chiara , was founded in 1448 as Spedale di Santa Croce . Contains the works Madonna col Bambino e Santi by Memmo di Filipuccio and Crocifisso by Coppo di Marcovaldo . Both works are now in the Museo Civico.
  • San Domenico , former convent that arose above the Santo Stefano church in the 14th century and was active until 1787. The building complex served as a prison from 1833 to 1922.
  • San Francesco , church ruins on Via San Giovanni. Originated in the 13th century as part of the Spedale gerosolimitano di San Giovanni and was given its current name in 1553.
  • San Girolamo , monastery and church built in 1337. Made the work Madonna col Bambino, San Giovanni Gualberto, San Giovanni Battista, San Benedetto e San Girolamo , 1522 on the high altar by Vincenzo di Benedetto di Chele Tamagni .
  • San Jacopo al Tempio , 13th century church at the Porta San Jacopo city gate. Contains frescoes of the Memmo di Filipuccio ( Madonna col Bambino fra i Santi Giacomo Maggiore e Giovanni Evangelista ) and Pier Francesco Fiorentino ( San Jacopo Maggiore ).
  • San Lorenzo al Ponte , a church built in 1240, contains works by Cenni di Francesco di ser Cenni.
  • Madonna dei Lumi , church at the Porta San Giovanni. Made in 1601.
  • San Pietro (San Pietro in Forliano), church that was enlarged in the 13th century. Contains the works Annunciazion , Madonna in trono tra due sante and Adorazione dei Magi by Memmo di Filipuccio .


  • Galleria continua , gallery for contemporary art.
  • SanGimignano1300 : The replica of the city shows the development of the place.
  • Museo Civico , municipal museum. The “Torre Grossa” from the 13th century belongs to the museum. The gender tower is the only one in San Gimignano that can be visited and climbed.
  • Museo d'Arte Sacra , religious art museum. The exhibits date from the Middle Ages to the 16th century.
  • Museo Ornitologico , museum in the former church Chiesa del Quercecchio.
  • Museo della Tortura , Museum of the History of Torture.

In the districts

Church ruins Santi Frediano e Giovanni a Castelvecchio
The Church of Santa Lucia in the district of Santa Lucia
Santuario di Maria Santissima Madre della Divina Provvidenza in Pancole
  • Castelvecchio di San Gimignano , castle and church ruins (Santi Frediano e Giovanni). The castle and the church are first mentioned in 1140 and 1144. The decline of the place began in the 16th century, the church was active until 1866.
  • San Bartolomeo , church in the Ulignano district .
  • Santa Cristina , church in the Castel San Gimignano district (14th century).
  • San Donato , church in the district of San Donato. Was on August 3, 1220 by Pope Honorius III. mentioned.
  • Santi Ippolito e Silvestro , Church in Racciano (13th century).
  • San Lorenzo a Casaglia , church in Casaglia (12th century).
  • Santa Lucia (Santa Lucia a Barbiano), church in the district of Santa Lucia (12th century).
  • Santa Lucia a San Benedetto , church in the district of San Benedetto.
  • Santa Maria a Villacastelli , church in the Villacastelli district (13th century).
  • Santa Maria Assunta a Cellole , church in Cellole, which was mentioned in 1034 and rebuilt and consecrated in 1237.
  • Santa Maria Assunta a Monte Oliveto Minore , church and monastery between the town center and the district of Santa Lucia. Made in 1340 and enlarged in 1458. Contains the work Madonna con due monaci by Vincenzo di Benedetto di Chele Tamagni .
  • Santuario di Maria Santissima Madre della Divina Provvidenza , sanctuary in Pancole, created in 1670.
  • San Michele a Casale , church in Casale. Was on August 3, 1220 by Pope Honorius III. mentioned.
  • San Michele a Strada , church in Strada (12th century).
  • San Pietro , church in Ciuciano near the district of Ranza (13th century).
  • Santo Sepolcro e Santa Maria a Elmi , church and monastery in the district of Badia a Elmi (11th century).


Today the city lives for the most part from its picturesque sight, which attracts tens of thousands of tourists every year.




  • The Poggibonsi-San Gimignano train station is on the Siena- Empoli railway line , and there are also direct connections to Florence. The train station is in Poggibonsi, approx. 10 km east of San Gimignano.
  • The closest junction to long-distance traffic is the Poggibonsi Nord junction on the RA3 , approx. 10 km away.

Community partnerships

San Gimignano maintains community partnerships with:

Sons and daughters of the church


  • Anthony Brierley et al .: Florence and Tuscany. Dorling Kindersley Verlag, Starnberg 2002, ISBN 3-928044-17-6 .
  • Emanuele Repetti: SAN GIMIGNANO, o SANGIMIGNANO nella Valle dell'Elsa. In: Dizionario Geografico Fisico Storico della Toscana (1833–1846). Online version of the University of Siena (pdf, Italian)
  • Piero Torriti: A day in San Gimignano. The city of the gender towers. Bonechi Edizioni, Florence 2003, ISBN 88-7204-362-X .
  • Touring Club Italiano : Toscana. Milan 2003, ISBN 88-365-2767-1 , pp. 600-616.
  • Klaus Zimmermann: Toscana. The hill country and the historic city centers. DuMont Reiseverlag, Ostfildern 2009, 7th edition

Web links

Commons : San Gimignano  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Statistiche demografiche ISTAT. Monthly population statistics of the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica , as of December 31 of 2019.
  2. a b c d e f g h Touring Club Italiano: Toscana.
  3. Website of the Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA), accessed on October 11, 2012 (Italian) (PDF; 330 kB)
  4. Official website of ISTAT ( Istituto Nazionale di Statistica ) on 2001 population figures in the province of Siena, accessed on October 11, 2012 (Italian)
  5. Official website of the Sistema Informativo Ambientale della Regione Toscana (SIRA) on the rivers in the municipality of San Gimignano , (Italian), accessed on November 15, 2017
  6. a b c d e f g h i j I Luoghi della Fede.
  7. Ecomuseo Val D'Elsa zu San Domenico , accessed on May 3, 2018 (Italian)
  8. Website of the Musei Senesi on the Museo Ornitologico , accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  9. Ecomuseo Val D'Elsa to Castelvecchio di San Gimignano , accessed on May 3, 2018 (Italian)
  10. Il Tirreno on the Church of Santa Cristina in Castel San Gimignano, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  11. ^ Emanuele Repetti: S. Donato a Sangimignano. Online version of the University of Siena, accessed on May 2, 2018 (PDF, Italian)
  12. Il Tirreno on the Church of Santi Ippolito e Silvestro in Racciano, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  13. Il Tirreno on the Church of San Lorenzo a Casaglia, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  14. Il Tirreno on the Church of Santa Lucia a Barbiano, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  15. Il Tirreno on the Church of Santa Maria a Villacastelli, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  16. Il Tirreno on the Santuario di Santa Maria a Pancole, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  17. Il Tirreno on the Church of San Michele a Casale, accessed on May 2, 2018 (Italian)
  18. Il Tirreno on the Church of San Michele a Strada, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  19. Il Tirreno on the Church of San Pietro a Ciuciano, accessed on May 1, 2018 (Italian)
  20. Emanuele Repetti: ADELMO, oggi ELMO in Val d'Elsa. Online version of the University of Siena, accessed on May 2, 2018 (PDF, Italian)
  21. Filming locations for tea with Mussolini
  22. Official website of San Gimignano: 10 ^ Gemellaggio con la Città di Meersburg , 2012 , accessed on November 16, 2017 (Italian)
  23. , accessed on November 16, 2017 (Italian)
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