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Top Ten Things to Do

The towers alone make a visit to this medieval time capsule worthwhile, but San Gimignano abounds in quirky sights. Make sure to stay after the crowds have gone. As for the museums, note that one combined ticket allows access to them all.

Top Ten Things to Do



Exploring the towers of power

The tower-studded skyline is one of the most spectacular sights in Tuscany. In its heyday, the city had a total of 72 towers, only 14 of which remain. Tower-houses were castle-residences serving as both warehouses and fortresses. These were self-sufficient enclaves symbolising the wealth of the feudal nobles or prosperous merchants and their scorn for civil authority. The arrival of the Black Death in 1348 put an end to these towers of power. It also put an end to prosperity in San Gimig¬nano until the 20th century. The city faded, compounded by a lack of political autonomy as it fell under Florentine control. In short, San Gimignano languished as an economic backwater, by¬passed by the Renaissance – for which we are eternally grateful.

The remaining towers are concentrated around the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Cisterna, which is teeming with tourists all year round. The tall defensive towers dominate the two main squares at the highest point of the town and doubled as status symbols, to flaunt the owners’ wealth and social standing. An additional theory holds that the towers were also linked to the textile trade, which helped make San Gimignano rich. As there was little room at ground level, some towers may have been built to house valuable dyed fabrics. However, the consensus is that these imperious towers began as defensive works but swiftly became status symbols, much like a Manhattanite skyscraper today.

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La Collegiata – a church frescoed to perfection

Confusingly also known as the Duomo, the ¬Collegiata is the most impressive church in town.  This gorgeous Romanesque church will also detain you longest as every patch of wall space is covered in frescoes. The mysticism of the spot is rivalled by its sense of intimacy, from the Tuscan banded arches to the graceful columns that support them. The north aisle displays Bartolo di Fredi’s dramatic scenes from the Old Testament (1367), while the opposite aisle shows Lippo Memmi’s Life of Christ (1333–41). The nave is devoted to The Last Judgement by Taddeo di ¬Bartolo (1393–6). Contrast these Gothic-style narrative paintings with Ghirlan¬daio’s lyrical Renaissance frescoes (1475) on the life of a local saint, in the chapel of Santa Fina. This beloved saint is remembered every March, with the blossoming of yellow violets, flowers said to symbolise Santa Fina, in the local countryside.

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Torre Campatelli –inside a true tower-house

This intriguing tower-house was home to the last resident of an illustrious Florentine clan. In 2005 Lydia Campatelli left the tower to the Fondo Ambiente Italiano (FAI), the respected Italian heritage body. Sandwiched between 18th-century townhouses, this 13th-century tower is the only one in town to have preserved its original layout and hollowed-out interior. Inside, it looks just as its last owner left it. There’s a display of art by Guido Peyron, Lydia Campatelli’s uncle, along with memorabilia linked to this Florentine merchant and landowning family. Apart from the pleasures of exploring an antique-filled tower house, enjoy the feeling of exploring a 19th-century Tuscan home, reflecting the upper-middle class tastes of the day.

Best of all, lap up the impressive audio-visual presentation, the Thousand Years of San Gimignano, outlining the history of the city (presented in English and Italian). The presentation reveals how the medieval skyscrapers signified the civilising effect of urban living, with the signori (feudal lords) encouraged to relinquish their castles for city life. There are broader historical points made about Tuscan medieval history. The borgo, or fortified city, also became home to landowners and merchants, and became a symbol of safety during the city-state conflicts.

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Experience an official tuscany tour with

Private Tuscany Drive Excursion: Siena and San Gimignano Day Trip from Florence

Private tour to Siena and San Gimignano with an english speaking driver in a de-luxe minivan. Your driver will talk to you about Tuscany traditions, history about the places you’ll visit and will tell you what is worth to be visited in every place.

from 93,97 US Dollar

Florence Airport Private Arrival Transfer

Travel from Florence Airport to your centrally located Florence hotel in the luxury of a private vehicle.

from 14,32 US Dollar

Dinner in the Vineyards from Siena

Enjoy a magical evening in the Chianti region and live the unforgettable experience of a dinner in the vineyards. Start off by visiting the farm’s wineries and tasting some delicious wines, after which you’ll and enjoy an outdoor barbecue accompanied by music and a delightful atmosphere.

from 85,95 US Dollar

Tuscany Motorcycle Tour - Cities of Tuscany

Discover the main cities of Tuscany with this motorcycle tour! This tour is a MUST if it is your first time in Tuscany. In 2 days we will be able to see all the main cities of Tuscany (obviously Florence is excluded as it is our departure and arrival spot). Between them, we will enjoy the wonderful landscapes and exciting roads of this region. We will visit the born-place of Leonardo, Vinci, the beautiful Lucca, the world famous Leaning Tower of Pisa, the old Etruscan town of Volterra, the magnificent San Gimignano (aka the medieval Manhattan for it’s towers), the historical Siena and Arezzo, the city where Life Is Beautiful was shot.
2 days of touring full of culture, new discovers, nice roads and great food, what else you can ask for?

from 571,84 US Dollar
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