San Gimignano Tourist Attractions
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.
When more convenient routes for traffic developed in the valleys trade abandoned the "Franks' Road" and San Gimignano declined. New building ceased, and it was all the inhabitants could do to prevent the old ones from falling into ruin. Thus San Gimignano remained almost unaltered in accordance with regulations promulgated by the municipality in 1602. In recent years restoration work promoted by UNESCO has done much to preserve these precious remains of the past.
The hill on which San Gimignano stands was the site of an Etruscan settlement but the place - named after St Germinianus, a 4th century Bishop of Módena - first appears in history in the MIddle Ages. the town's situation on the "Franks' Road", the road to Rome from the north, brought it a profitable trade, and the growing of saffron brought great prosperity. As a free commune San Gimignano was governed by Consuls and later by a podestà, but in 1353 it came under Florentine rule. During its period of independence there was continual strife between two great families in the town, the Ardinghelli, who took the Guelf side, and the Salvucci, who were Ghibellines: a rivalry which left its distinctive mark in the form of the towers built by the rival factions, increasing constantly in number and in height. At one time there were more than 70 of these towers, and of these 13 still survive, giving this little walled town its characteristic aspect.