San Gimignano and its towers
San Gimignano is a small town in the province of Siena, rich in charm and history.
The village of San Gimignano is located nearly halfway between Florence and Siena, from which it is respectively 60 and 45 km away, and is easily accessible by car or by bus.
The city was built on a hill about 300 metres and enjoys a privileged view over the picturesque landscape of the Val d’Elsa. The Hill, as evidenced by several artifacts found in the area, was inhabited since Etruscan and Hellenistic period, probably due to its dominant position which allowed you to easily control the Valley.
San Gimignano was named around the tenth century a.d. in honor of St Geminianus, Bishop of Modena lived in the fourteenth century, who is said to have saved from the onslaught of the barbarians appearing them on walls.
In the middle ages San Gimignano lived its most flourishing period, thanks to being crossed by the Via Francigena, one of the main roads of the era. The city was an important landmark for many merchants, travelers and especially for the many faithful who went on pilgrimage to Rome and in need of hospitality and often need assistance.
At the end of the 1100 San Gimignano became a free municipality. The city was involved in the struggles between Guelphs and Ghibellines, what almost inevitable given its central position with respect to the two great rivals, Florence and Siena (the first Guelph, the second ghibellina). Despite the struggles, the 1200 was to San Gimignano century of greater economic development, thanks mainly to trade in local products (mostly for agriculture, such as saffron and wine). The town grew considerably and also many public works were done.
In this period the city was embellished with seventy towers, which were built by many wealthy families to ostentation of their wealth and power. Are still the beautiful Fourteen towers remain to characterize the city centre and make unique and recognizable profile of San Gimignano.
Despite the passing of the centuries, San Gimignano has managed to preserve its medieval appearance and charm and even today is indisputably one of the great little treasures of Tuscany. The “city of the beautiful towers”, as rightly defined, was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1990.