San Gimignano, Italy

Piazza del Duomo

Piazza del Duomo

I knew San Gimignano, a walled town in the province of Siena, was best known for its skyline medieval skyscrapers, but I was still surprised to see them in this otherwise pastoral area.

Tower

Tower

Medieval skyscrapers

Medieval skyscrapers

Of 72 original towers, 14 have survived. Most of the towers were built in the 12th and 13th centuries and were symbols of the city’s medieval families’ power and wealth.

Looking up

Looking up

A quiet street

A quiet street

At that time, the population was 15,000, or roughly double what it is today. In 1348, plague wiped out most of the population.

13th-century Chiesa di Sant'Agostino

13th-century Chiesa di Sant’Agostino

Typical stone buildings

Typical stone buildings

Sunny square

Sunny square

San Gimignano started out as an Etruscan village in 3rd century BC. In the 5th century AD, the town was named after the bishop of Modena, Geminianus, who saved the city from Attila the Hun. A church was constructed and a walled city began growing up around it.

The Romanesque basilica’s interior is a must-see, covered with bold 14th-century frescoes.

The Romanesque basilica’s interior is a must-see, covered with bold 14th-century frescoes.

In the Middle Ages, San Gimignano prospered from its ideal position on the route from Lombardy to Rome. The city grew rich from agriculture and wine trading.

Lookout point

Lookout point

Tuscan countryside

Tuscan countryside

The surrounding area is best known for its saffron.

The main street

The main street

Today, San Gimignano is an appealing town in which to spend a day. There are plenty of streets to wander and endless architectural details to take in.

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