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San Gimignano

San Gimignano, bristling with ancient towers, is often dubbed the `medieval Manhattan.’  The skyline has scarcely changed since the Middle Ages - yet the famous towers do, indeed, resemble miniature skyscrapers. San Gimignano’s towers were built in the 12th and 13th centuries by the magnati, or nobles, during the Guelf-Ghibelline conflicts. These windowless towers protected the wealthiest families in times of strife: families could retreat into the many rooms inside for months at a time. As well as defending the city, the towers served as status symbols: the higher the tower, the richer and more powerful its owner. Given its spectacular setting, San Gimignano is one of the most touristy towns in Tuscany but manages to rise above the masses. Come for its medieval mood but try and linger after the tour buses have left town. Reward yourself with a toast to medieval glory – in local Vernaccia wine, of course.

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