San Gimignano

  • SAN GIMIGNANO

    the medieval Manhattan…

Welcome to San Gimignano

Aerial view of San Gimignano

Sights in San Gimignano

La Collegiata cathedral, San Gimignano, Tuscany

The Duomo of San Gimignano

Entering Piazza del Duomo from Piazza della Cisterna, on the left you can see the Palazzo Comunale, which stands next to the staircase leading to the entrance of the Duomo (or Basilica Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta).
Opposite you can see the Palazzo that belonged to the Ghibelline Salvucci family, bitter enemies of the Guelph Ardinghellis, whose houses stood in the adjoining square with the “twin” towers.
Duomo di San Gimignano
They say that these two towers, which were not identical in size, had been erected by the Salvuccis to bypass the Communal Statutes of 1255, according to which no towers in town could be higher than the Podestà’s Tower (Rognosa). In order to boast their power and impudence, the Salvuccis built two towers: the base of the second one could be superimposed to the top of the first one, and the two towers, if ideally put the one upon the other, were definitely higher than the Communal Tower.
On the right there is Palazzo Chigi-Useppi and the former governor’s palace, Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà, with its Torre Rognosa that was used as a prison until the end of the fourteenth century.
Piazza della Cisterna

Piazza della Cisterna

The archway Arco dei Becci e Cugnanesi leads to Piazza della Cisterna, the most beautiful square of the town, originally lined with workshops and taverns. In the middle there is an octagonal travertine well that gives the name to the square. The well was built in 1273 and enlarged in 1346 by Podestà Guccio dei Malavolti, whose coat of arms – a ladder – is engraved on the stone walls of the well.
Originally its name was Piazza delle Taverne, than Piazza dell’Olmo, because of the huge elm tree that dominated the square. Piazza della Cisterna has a timeless magical atmosphere that brings visitors back in time. Ancient buildings and towers alternate in perfect harmony all around the square, whose redbrick pavement with irregular triangular patterns leads to Via del castello.
Looking at Via del Castello, on the right-hand side, you can admire Palazzo Tortoli, with its elegant mullioned windows dating back to the fourteenth century, the cut-off tower which belonged to the Pucci family between the nineteenth and the twentieth century, Hotel Cisterna, the former residence of the Cetti and Bracceri families, then turned into a Children’s Home (Ospizio dei Gettatelli); Palazzo Ridolfi, the towers and the houses that belonged to Beccis and Cugnanesis; Palazzo Pellari and Palazzo Ardinghelli, with its two towers.
On the other side of the square, Palazzo Lupi stands with its Torre del Diavolo, the Devil’s Tower: its owner, back from a long journey, found it unexplainably higher and he ascribed the work to the Devil. After Vicolo dell’Oro, originally the street of goldsmiths’ workshops, there is Palazzo Cortesi-Lolli, erected on pre-existent buildings.
Rocca di Montestaffoli

Rocca di Montestaffoli

The main church in Lucca is its cathedral, the Duomo di Lucca, built in the 11th century.

The structure stands at one side of the Piazza San Martino, and inside, visitors will find the most revered relic in town: the Holy Face of Lucca (Volto Santo).

This wooden cross is said to have been carved by Nicodemus, and although the one on display is a 13th-century copy, it’s no less important to the church or town. There are two times each year when the Volto Santo is celebrated, dressed in special vestments in the cathedral.

The church was rebuilt in the 14th century, although the campanile (bell tower) from the original structure remains, which is why one arch is quite a bit smaller than the other.

Other points of interest inside the Duomo are paintings by Ghirlandaio and Tintoretto, as well as the 15th-century tomb of Ilaria del Carretto of the Guinigi family. There is a museum in the cathedral as well.

Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà

Former Podestà’s Palace

Palazzo Chigi-Useppi and the former Podestà’s Palace with its Torre Rognosa – used as a prison till the end of the fourteenth century – stand in Piazza del Duomo, opposite the church.
The upper part of Palazzo Vecchio del Podesta is in brick. The stone lower part of the building consists of a large lodge with stone seats. On the wall at the bottom there is a fresco by Sodoma (1513) depicting the Virgin with Child, St Gimignano, and St Nicola, and the entrance door to the tiny lovely theatre of the town, Teatro dei Leggieri, built on the site of an ancient theatre in 1534, then refurbished in 1794.
When the Podestà moved to the new Palazzo Comunale, erected next to the Duomo in 1298, the old Palazzo was first used as a hotel for distinguished guests and then as a Male Public School.
Porta San Giovanni

Porta San Giovanni

This gate was build during the 13th.Century and its peculiarity is the external segmental Arch that is surmounted by a guardroom that is supported by six trilobated hanging arches.

Next to the guardroom, on the left of the observer, there is a small bell tower that surmount the right nave of a 16.th century church, “La Madonna dei Lumi”, that nowadays is almost completely destroyed. – See more at: http://www.sangimignano.com/en/san-gimignano/guide-to-the-town/porta-san-giovanni.asp#sthash.FbgMWRcS.dpuf

Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà

Porta San Matteo

The gate “Porta San Matteo” is located on the second walls circle of the town that was build during the 12th. Century; the walls originally present seven entrances to the town.

The gate is surmounted by a double arch, ogive and depressed, and is surrounded by six small arches that were build successively. This gate overlooks the first town suburbs, the road to Certaldo and the small tower “torrione dei frati”.

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Medieval Fountains

Medieval Fountains

Porta delle Fonti opens into the countryside and leads to the public fountains, where originally local people drew water, and washed their cloths.

The fountains, dating back to the fourteenth century, consist of ten Roman and lancet arches that conceal the first Lombard stony fountain dating back to the ninth century.
This gate was part of the second circle of walls, but it was altered during the twentieth century. In 1930 the chapel built upon the gate in 1501 was demolished, and the fresco contained in the chapel – depicting the “Virgin with child, St. Michael, and St John the Baptist” – was moved under the lodge of the Town Hall.

Source : http://www.sangimignano.com

sangimignano piazza pecori

Piazza Pecori

Between the Duomo and the Palazzo Comunale, on the left side of the church, there is a ramp leading to Piazza Pecori, a square named after a local personality, Luigi Pecori, a priest fond of local history who was born in 1811 and died in1864. The square is also known as Piazza della Propositura. On the right side of the square there is the Lodge of Announciation, also called the Lodge of the Baptistery, because of a hexagonal font by Giovanni di Cecco ordered in 1472 by the members of the Guild of Wool.
The font is beautifully engraved with scenes depicting the Baptism of Jesus. The wall at the bottom of the Lodge boasts a beautiful fresco of the Announciation ascribed to Domenico Ghirlandaio. On the left side of the square there is Palazzo della Propositura, built on a portion of soil that belonged to the Town Hall before the Asset Swap of 1288. The façade has beautiful mullioned windows. In front of the Propositura there is a small well covered with a brick shelter dating back to the late seventeenth century.
The Museo di arte Sacra (Sacred Art Museum) is set in the lower part of square in a building that formerly housed the Chapelains’ Dormitory. Untill 1600 the square appeared as a large cloister annexed to the ancient Pieve.

Source : http://www.sangimignano.com

Casa di Santa Fina

Casa di Santa Fina

From Piazza della Cisterna, walking down Via Del Castello for a 100m, an archway on the right opens into a dark narrow passage that rapidly leads to Santa Fina’s House.
This young blessed virgin endured long physical and material suffering that she accepted for Christ’s sake. Assisted with love by her wetnurse Beldie, who remained at her side after her mother’s death, Fina lay for most of her short life on a wooden board in the cellar of her poor house. Today a chapel, Santa Fina’s house is viewable every year on12th March, the saint’s day. They say that shortly before her death, St Gregorio appeared to the saint foretelling the end of her mortal life. After her death, angels rang the local bells; small yellow flowers, today called “viole di Santa Fina” (St Fina’s violets) came out on the towers and city walls.
Fina, who has never been declared saint by the Church, really lived in San Gimignano, and after many centuries local people still worship her.

Source : http://www.sangimignano.com

San_Gimignano,_Piazza_delle_Erbe

Piazza delle Erbe

Piazza delle Erbe opens on the left side of the Duomo. The name probably comes from the local produce market which is usually held here, as in the past. It was officially named Piazza Ugo Nomi (Brogi Veronesi Pesciolini 1840-1910), a priest of a noble family.
The square has an original triangular shape wedging towards la Rocca. It has been recently paved with bricks, looking now larger, but less intimate than it was some yeas ago, when it was shaded by old pine trees and had a small fountain. Today, the most interesting architectonical features of this Piazza are the simple elegance of its houses and the two “twin” towers, erected by the Ghibelline Salvucci family. Their palace, however, does not exist anymore.
On the left side, the square is bordered by the bell tower and the side wall of the Collegiata, that still bears traces of the gothic windows closed to accomplish the frescoes of the New Testament.

Source : http://www.sangimignano.com

Piazza Sant'Agostino

Piazza Sant’Agostino

Before exiting Porta San Matteo, the Northern gate, turn right into narrow Via Cellolese, that leads you straight into one of the most interesting squares of the town: Piazza Sant’Agostino.
The small Church of San Pietro is located next to the large building with the Convent of the Augustinian Friars, but it is oriented in the opposite direction. It is one of the most ancient churches in San Gimignano (12th century).
In the middle of the square, between the Church of San Pietro and the Church of Sant’Agostino, next to the convent, there is a hexagonal stone well surmounting a hexagonal base with two steps.
San-Domenico

San Domenico

At the end of Via del Castello, the street going down from Piazza della Cisterna, there is the huge complex of San Domenico, the former Castle of the Bishop of Volterra between the tenth and the eleventh century. From the early thirteenth century to the end of 1353, it was used as a fortress to protect the free Commune that had recently formed. Later on, when the town submitted to Florence and Rocca di Montestaffoli was built, it was turned into a convent by the Dominican friars. The building adjacent to the beautiful fifteenth-century cloister, that was turned into a church, is still in good state. Of the ancient church, only the chapel remains, with its magnificent baroque golden-wood altar (not open to the public).

The friars left the convent at the end of the eighteenth century. Over the years it became a female prison, then a male prison, in 1844. A few years ago the whole complex was again under the Regional Board of the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Environmental Conservation. The Commune has always considered the complex an important issue and a space to be enhanced to the benefit of the cultural and social development of the town. After more than twenty years of efforts, San Domenico is now part of the Communal properties, and preliminary studies for a future project have been already set up.

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