San Gimignano Tourist Attractions

San GimignanoSan Gimignano

The little town of San Gimignano is prominently situated on a hill some 35km/22 mi northwest of Siena and 50km/30 mi southwest of Florence.

Piazza della Cisterna

The picturesque little Piazza della Cisterna, the town's main square, takes its name from a well constructed here in 1273. Triangular in shape, it was enlarged in 1346, and is paved with bricks laid in a herringbone pattern. Flanking the square (from right to left, beginning at the arch) are the Casa Razzi (No. 28, on the south side), with the stump of a tower; the Casa Salvestrini (No. 9), formerly the Ospedale degli Innocenti and now the Albergo della Cisterna; the Palazzo Tortoli, with the remains of a tower belonging to the Palazzo del Capitano del Pópolo; the Palazzo dei Cortesi (on the north side of the square), with the tall Torre del Diávolo (Devil's tower); and the two Torri Ardinghelli (on the west side).

Santa Maria Assunta

On the Piazza del Duomo is the Romanesque Santa Maria Assunta, built originally in the 12th C.
HIGHLIGHTS

Museum of Religious Art

Adjoining the Church of Santa Maria Assunta is the Museo d'Arte Sacra (Museum of Religious Art), which contains sculpture of the 14th and 15th centuries, an Oriental carpet in the form of a Greek cross (16th century) and liturgical vestments.
Address: Piazza Pecori 1, I-53037 San Gimignano, Italy

Museo Etrusco

The same building which houses the Museo d'Arte Sacra also houses the Museo Etrusco, with a small collection of Etruscan urns, vases, coins, etc.
Address: Piazza Pecori 1, I-53037 San Gimignano, Italy

Museum of Art and Handicrafts

To the south, outside the Porta San Giovanni, stands the Museo di Arti e Mestieri (Museum of Art and Handicrafts), with exhibits dating from the Middle Ages to the present day.

Palazzo del Pópolo

To the left of Santa Maria Assunta is the Palazzo del Pópolo (also known as the Palazzo Nuovo del Podestà; begun 1288, enlarged 1323), which was the seat of municipal government from the end of the 13th century and still the Town Hall. The tower, known as the Torre Grossa (Fat Tower), is the tallest in the town (54m/177ft; fine view from top). A municipal ordinance laid down that no other tower should be higher than this one.

Municipal Art Gallery

Within the Palazzo del Pópolo is the Museo Civico (Municipal Art Gallery). Passing through a picturesque courtyard with a well of 1361, we come into the Sala Dante, so called after a visit to the town by the poet in 1300, when he sought to persuade the municipal councilors to join the Guelf League; the date 1299 given in an inscription in the room is incorrect. On the right-hand wall of the room is a "Maestà" (Madonna enthroned) by Lippo Memmi (1317). The collection also includes a painted Crucifix by Coppo di Marcovaldo (13th century), a "Madonna and Child" by Pinturicchio (1512), two tondi depicting the "Annunciation" by Filippino Lippi (1483) and numbers of notable works by Florentine and Sienese painters of the 13th-15th centuries.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, I-53037 San Gimignano, Italy

Palazzo del Podestà

Facing Santa Maria Assunta is the old Palazzo del Podestà, built in 1239, incorporating houses belonging to the Mantellini family, and enlarged in 1337. On the ground floor is a loggia, and the palazzo is dominated by a 51m/167ft high tower known as the Rognosa.
Address: Piazza del Duomo, I-53037 San Gimignano, Italy

Torri Salvucci

To the left of the Palazzo del Podestà, at the end of Via San Matteo, are the two Torri Salvucci, which once belonged to the powerful Ardinghelli family. Farther along Via San Matteo are the Casa-Torre Pesciolini (No. 32) and the Palazzo Tinacci (Nos. 60-62).

Rocca

A little way west of Santa Maria Assunta, built against the town walls on the highest point of the hill, is the rocca (castle), erected by the Florentines in 1353 but demolished in 1555 on the orders of Cosimo I. Only a tower and fragments of the walls survive. From the top there are magnificent views of the town and surrounding countryside.

San Iácopo

Near the Porta San Iácopo, the north town gate, is the little Romanesque Church of San Iácopo, built by the Templars in the 13th century. The facade (lower part brick, upper part travertine) has a Pisan-style doorway with a beautiful rose-window. The interior is aisleless, with groined vaulting. There is a fine fresco of the Crucifixion by Memmo di Filippuccio (13th-14th centuries).

Sant'Agostino

A little way north of the Porta San Matteo, at the northern tip of the old town of San Gimignano within the walls, stands the Church of Sant'Agostino, an aisleless brick church built by Augustinian Canons between 1280 and 1298 in the plain Gothic style of the Mendicant Orders. Immediately on the right of the entrance is the Cappella di San Bártolo, with a sumptuous marble altar by Benedetto da Maiano (1494) containing the remains of San Bártolo. On the high altar is an altar-piece depicting the Coronation of the Virgin by Piero Pollaiuolo (1483).

Frescoes

The most notable feature of the Church of Sant'Agostino is a splendid cycle of frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli (1464-65) in the choir. Beautifully painted in a lively narrative style, they depict in 19 scenes the life of St Augustine (354-430), one of the great Latin Fathers of the Church.
In the lowest row are Augustine as a boy in Tagaste (North Africa); Augustine as a youth in Carthage; his mother St Monica praying for her son; Augustine sailing to Italy; his landing; Augustine teaching in Rome; his departure for Milan.
Middle row: his audience with Bishop Ambrose of Milan and with the Emperor Theodosius; St Monica begging for the conversion of her son; disputation between Augustine and St Ambrose; Augustine reading Paul's Epistle to the Romans (13, 13) on his conversion; Augustine baptized by St Ambrose; Augustine and the Christ Child by the sea; Augustine explaining his Rule; death of St Monica. Top row: Augustine as Bishop of Hippo; conversion of a heretic; vision of St Jerome; death of Augustine. There are other frescoes in the nave: "St Sebastian Clothed", by Benozzo Gozzoli (1524); "Madonna Enthroned", by Lippo Memmi (1330); "San Bártolo giving a Blessing", by Sebastiano Mainardi (1487); "Life of the Virgin", by Bártolo di Fredi (c. 1400). On the south side of the church, entered from the sacristy, is a 15th century cloister and the chapter-house.

Surroundings

Pieve di Cèllole

Standing on a hill, surrounded by cypresses, is the Pieve (Parish Church) of the village of Cèllole, probably built at the turn of the 12th-13th centuries. The facade is plain, but the outside of the apse has rich figural decoration. The church has a beautiful font.
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