The Medieval Town of San Gimignano in Tuscany
Located on a hill in the province of Siena, in Italy's Tuscany region, the medieval walled town of San Gimignano is characterized by its ancient tower houses creating a skyscraper-like skyline. The historic center of the town has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it bears testimony to the civilization and urbanization of the Middle Ages. History and architecture enthusiasts will appreciate the well-preserved examples of Roman and Gothic architectures, including both secular buildings and churches, some of which date back to the 14th century.
While the first historical record of the town dates back to 929, local legends tell the tale of two brothers named Silvio and Muzio who had escaped from Rome in 63 BC, having been implicated in the Conspiracy of Catiline, where a group of aristocrats led by Lucius Sergius Catilina conspired against Rome. The two brothers reportedly built two castles named after themselves, and these became the foundation around which the town of San Gimignano developed.
Among the attractions of San Gimignano is the Museum of Sacred Art which was created in 1915. The museum protects and exhibits extraordinary sculptures, painting, earthenware, textiles, silverware and other precious items from the convents and churches of the area. Among the items in the safekeeping of the museum is a 14th century enameled cross and 14th century wood carved sculptures of the Madonna and other revered figures.
Paying tribute to the prestige and quality of wine produced in the area, the San Gimignano Vernaccia Wine Museum is located in the highest point of the town, overlooking the flourishing vineyards. Visitors to the museum will find illustrative panels, photographs and other exhibits detailing the history of winemaking in San Gimignano. The museum also organizes visits to the farms and wine tasting on a regular basis.
The towers of San Gimignano are particularly interesting, as they date back to the 14th century and were built as an outward show of wealth by the families who built them. Today there are only 13 of the 72 original towers still standing, although some of the houses still show evidence of having featured towers in the past. Certainly San Gimignano is an interesting destination to explore when visiting the Tuscany region of Italy.