San Gimignano - Tuscany

TuscanySan Gimignano delle belle Torri

'San Gimignano delle belle Torri' is in Tuscany, 56 km south of Florence. It served as an important relay point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. The patrician families who controlled the town built around 72 tower-houses (some as high as 50 m) as symbols of their wealth and power. Although only 14 have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance. The town also has several masterpieces of 14th- and 15th-century Italian art.


San GimignanoPiazza della Cisterna

Piazza della Cisterna is the most beautiful square of the town, originally lined with workshops and taverns. In the middle there is an octagonal travertine well that gives the name to the square. The well was built in 1273 and enlarged in 1346 by Podestà Guccio dei Malavolti, whose coat of arms - a ladder - is engraved on the stone walls of the well. Originally its name was Piazza delle Taverne, than Piazza dell'Olmo, because of the huge elm tree that dominated the square. Piazza della Cisterna has a timeless magical atmosphere that brings visitors back in time. Ancient buildings and towers alternate in perfect harmony all around the square, whose redbrick pavement with irregular triangular patterns leads to Via del castello. Looking at Via del Castello, on the right-hand side, you can admire Palazzo Tortoli, with its elegant mullioned windows dating back to the fourteenth century, the cut-off tower which belonged to the Pucci family between the nineteenth and the twentieth century, Hotel Cisterna, the former residence of the Cetti and Bracceri families, then turned into a Children's Home (Ospizio dei Gettatelli); Palazzo Ridolfi, the towers and the houses that belonged to Beccis and Cugnanesis; Palazzo Pellari and Palazzo Ardinghelli, with its two towers. On the other side of the square, Palazzo Lupi stands with its Torre del Diavolo, the Devil's Tower: its owner, back from a long journey, found it unexplainably higher and he ascribed the work to the Devil. After Vicolo dell'Oro, originally the street of goldsmiths' workshops, there is Palazzo Cortesi-Lolli, erected on pre-existent buildings.


San GimignanoPiazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo is the heart of San Giminiano. It is a brick, trapezoid-shaped space with a slight slope, adding to the wonder of those who upon entering find themselves all of a sudden at the centre of the Middle Ages. Three important medieval buildings face one another here: On the north side, projecting up into the sky, are the Torri Gemelle dei Salvucci. On the opposite side is the Palazzo Nuovo del Potestà with the Loggia del Comune. Beside it is the massive Torre Grossa. The most imposing building is the Collegiata; it is at the centre, overpowering the piazza with its bulk as it sits on high atop a stairway. Exactly opposite is the Palazzo Vecchio del Potestà with the Torre Rognosa and the Torre Chigi alongside. The Collegiata, also know as the Duomo, gives its name to the piazza and has been there since the 11th century. In the first half of the 13th century, during the period of greatest economic prosperity, the piazza assumed the appearance it still has today. The main public buildings were built here, and the façade of the Duomo was rotated to face the Palazzo Vecchio del Potestà.

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