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San Gimignano

San Gimignano is a small walled medieval hilltop town in Tuscany, Italy, about a 35-minute drive northwest of Siena or southwest of Florence. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which can be seen several miles outside the town.

The town is also known for the white wine grown in the area, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

Main sights

In Italian medieval walled towns, rich families competed in the erection of high towers, that served as lodgings, fortresses and prestige symbols. While in other cities like Bologna or Florence, most or all of the towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes or urban renewal, San Gimignano managed to conserve 13 towers of varying height which are its international symbol.

There are many churches in the town: the two main ones are the Collegiata (former cathedral) and Sant'Agostino, housing a wide series of artworks from some of the main Italian renaissance artists. The Communal Palace, once seat of the podestà, is currently home of the Town Gallery, with works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Domenico di Michelino, Pier Francesco Fiorentino and others. From the palace the Dante's Hall can be accessed, with a Majesty fresco by Lippo Lemmi, as well as the Torre del Podestà (or Torre Grossa, 1311), standing 54 m high.

San Gimignano is also famous for its torture museum, with a display of instruments and devices for torture in various times and places, complete with multi-lingual descriptions of their use.


San Gimignano is the birthplace of the poet Folgore da San Gimignano (1270-1332).

A fictionalised version of San Gimignano features in E.M. Forster's 1905 novel Where Angels Fear to Tread as Monteriano.

It is thought that the towers are the inspiration for the design of the campus of the University of Essex and of the residential colleges of Ezra Stiles and Morse at Yale University.

M.C. Escher's 1923 woodcut San Gimignano depicts the celebrated towers.

Tea with Mussolini, a 1999 drama about the plight of English and American expatriates in Italy during World War II, was in part filmed in San Gimignano.



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