Posted by: Debra Kolkka | December 1, 2020

Sensational San Gimignano

A small Etruscan town existed in the 3rd century BC on the site of the current town of San Gimignano. In the 1st century two brothers, Mucchio and Silvio, built two castles named Mucchio and Silvia. The name Silvia was changed to San Gimignano in 450AD after Bishop Geminianus, the Saint of Modena, intervened to prevent the destruction of the castle by followers of Attila the Hun.

A church was built and in the 6th and 7th centuries a walled village grew around the castle and the church. The town sits on the medieval road, Via Francigena and in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance era San Gimignano became a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Rome.

Conflicts between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines in the medieval period resulted in the competitive building of tower houses. Towards the end of this period there were 72 towers up to 70 metres tall until the local comune called a halt to any tower higher than the one beside the Palazzo Comunale.

The remains of these towers are a feature of this beautiful town. There are 14 towers left largely intact and they are clearly visible from the roads towards the town.

It was a cloudy day when I visited before the most recent lockdown and I stopped when the towers came into view.

I went on and parked at the car park opposite Porta San Giovanni, one of the entrances to the town. By then sunshine had appeared.

The view from the square in front of the entrance is Tuscany at its loveliest.

I walked up Via San Giovanni towards the Piazza della Cisterna, the main square of the town.

The well in the centre of the piazza was the main water source for the residents of San Gimingnano. The piazza dates from the 1300s. It was renovated in the late 20th century but some of the original paving remains.


Walking past the piazza I quickly came to the Piazza del Duomo, home of the Collegiate church, the Palazzo Comunale and the Palazzo Podesta


I continued down Via San Matteo to my accommodation Hotel L’Antico Pozzo.

The hotel was excellent. I will show you in the next post about San Gimignano, along with some views of the surrounding countryside, the town at night and a great restaurant. There is much to love about this gorgeous hill top Tuscan town.


  1. The buildings are fantastic.

    • It is a stunning town.

  2. Love it!! In the 14th photo, below the well photo, I see the marks in the tower of old roof lines. As always, these ancient buildings spark my imagination!!

    • I love that these buildings are still standing.

  3. A very exciting town But I am amazed at the lack of tourists on your visit.

    • There were very few tourists anywhere this year! If I go to San Gimignano I like to stay the night. Most tourists are day trippers and after 5.00pm most of them have moved on.

  4. Thank you for the memorabile pictures. I have been there two or three times and love it so much. I noted your hotel and v interested in restaurants etc. Plan to come back as soon as open for Americans! great post!

    • I love San Gimignano too. In high season it is impossibly crowded, but if you stay overnight it is great as most of the tourists are day trippers and leave by 5.00pm.

  5. You should be a tour guide! Another lovely post-thanks Debra.

    • I am OK with taking friends to my favourite places but that is the only tour guiding I want to do, but thank you!

  6. I heard people call San Gimignano the Manhattan of Tuscany.

    • Early sky scrapers. It is wonderfully preserved, a stunning town.

  7. Debra, thank you for this wonderful post. San Gimignano is very dear to my heart, as I had spent my honeymoon there about over 40 years ago, I have such fond memories of this lovely town.

    • It is a beautiful town, one of my many favourites in Italy. As much as I was sorry for the traders it was lovely to wander without the crowds.

  8. It is a fairytale town. I trust that you had a glass or two of Vernaccia di San Gimignano to celebrate!

    • I had a wonderful meal in San Gimignano and will write about it in my next post about the town. I would go back there just to eat in that restaurant.

  9. Fabulous chris & I have been here many times over 30 years, the shops have become a little more tatty, but that doesn’t detract from the beauty of the place. Thanks Debra xx

    • I saw some lovely shops this trip. I thought everything was looking great. I love San Gimignano.

  10. I so enjoyed your post and wonderful photos. The last time we were in that area we took friends to see San Gimignano, a place we have always loved. There was a sea of tour buses, all the car parks were full and tourists were shoulder to shoulder. We ended up having to leave without our friends seeing this wonderful little town. I’m sending my girlfriend a link.

    • San Gimignano is a victim of its beauty. I have been there when it is packed and it is awful. I am usually not in Italy in high season so I get to see these places without too many people.

      • Not being there during the high season certainly does make it more pleasant.

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