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Tuscany Travel Guide

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Overview

San Gimignano is an emblematic Medieval fortified town rising on a hill, at 324 m above sea level, overlooking the Elsa Valley. The town is situated north-west of the Siena’s province at a short distance from the nearest city.

In 1990 San Gimignano was declared by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Town.

The town is also known as “San Gimignano delle belle Torri” because of its sky-scraping 14 quadrangular ancient towers of different diameters and heights which are its well-known worldwide symbol. During the Middle Ages there were erected 71 towers on the town but most of them were destroyed by the struggles and wars undergone in Tuscan’s territories along the centuries.

San Gimignano was already inhabited since pre-historical times. In the 3rd century BC it was founded by the Etruscans. In the AD 60 c. Romans built up in its area two small fortresses, named Mucchio and Silvia giving to the town its former name. In the 10th century it took its name from San Geminianus, Bishop of Modena, who safeguarded it from Huns' attacks.

The town developed during the High Middle Age mostly due to its advantaged geographical position being crossed by the Via Francigena, the trading and pilgrim’s way from Europe to Rome. During the 13th century San Gimignano was the scene of intense fights between the two political territorial fractions: the Guelphs (Pope’s devotees) and the Ghibellines (Emperor’s adherents). On May 8th, 1300 Dante Alighieri was designated Ambassador in Tuscany by the “Guelph League” having his seat in the former Palazzo del Podestà (now Palazzo Comunale).In the second half of the 14th century the town, after upholding its independence at a huge price, consented to enter into Florence’s jurisdiction.

Click here to see main monuments to visit in San Gimignano :

Where to eat:

San Gimignano houses a big deal of bars, wine shops to taste or buying its excellent white Vernaccia di San Gimignano (first DOC Italian wine) as well as a long restaurant’s list.

Our suggestions are:

- “Trattoria La Mangatoia”: a well-known trattoria, housing a charming lounge with flowers and candles on the tables and mild classical music. It offers a selected and tasty traditional cuisine. Wines are really good. In the Summer season meals are also offered in its garden.

- “Dorando”: a small and tastefully refined restaurant offering a first-class list of local Medieval dishes as well as creative cuisine, including fresh fish specialities. The wine cellar is exclusive.

- “Enoteca Gustavo”: with a notable wine’s selection offers some delicious snacks like foccaccias and local cheeses with honey.

- “Il Castello”: bar and restaurant as well, it hosts also a pretty panoramic patio. Its specialties are the tasteful and fresh local meats, like the bistecca alla fiorentina and wild boar with polenta.

Where to sleep :

Private Villas: Villa San Gimignano

Hotels and B&B:

Main Towns of Chianti

Badia a Passignano, Barberino val d' Elsa, Castellina in Chianti, Castello di Brolio, Castello di Gabbiano, Castello di Meleto, Certaldo, Colle Val D' Elsa, Greve in Chianti, Monterchi, Mercatale Val di Pesa, Panzano in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, San Gimignano, Tavernelle Val di Pesa, Badia a Coltibuono.

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