• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Historic Centre of San Gimignano

  • Historical Function


Location and site

At the heart of the Etruscan landscape of Tuscany, near the Apennines, San Gimignano is located near the Val d'Elsa, 54 km. rom Florence.

Urban Morphology

San Gimignagno's outer walls include several indentations and protrusions. The plan of this small town of 8,000 inhabitants developed around two contiguous squares that built up against the fortification wall, which is 2.17 km. long and partially bordered by trees. The main artery which winds its way through the city is complemented by a web of narrow streets, sometimes cut with stairs.

Of the 72 towers that once defined the profile of San Gimignano, only 14 remain. The city offers a fortified ensemble of golden limestone. Around the Piazza del Duomo are a number of its monuments, including palaces, the cathedral with its famous frescoes, and 7 of the 14 remaining towers. The triangular Piazza della Cisterna, which is paved with stones set on edge, has a well in the centre. These squares date to the 13th and 14th centuries.

Registration Criteria

The historic centre of San Gimignano houses a series of masterpieces of Italian art of the 14th and 15th centuries in their original architectural context. (I) San Gimignano bears an exceptional testimony of medieval civilisation by the accumulation, within a confined setting, of all of the structures required for urban life: squares and streets, houses and palaces, wells and fountains. (III) San Gimignano conserves, with its 14 towers rising proudly above its palaces, the appearance of a Tuscan feudal city, with its rival factions living at the brink of war. (IV)

Historical Reference

  • In the 11th and 12th centuries, Italy experienced economic revival thanks to trade with the eastern Mediterranean and northern Europe. In 1115, Tuscany was ceded to the Holy See against the will of the Germanic emperors. Some towns took advantage of this period of conflict to establish themselves as independent "communes."
  • This was also a period of rivalry, within different towns, between family clans, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the partisans of the Pope and the supporters of the Emperor. Ramparts were built to protect the various factions.
  • After having served as a stopover point on the Roman pilgrimage route and having been subjugated by the bishops of Volterra, San Gimignano became a free commune in 1199. Its fortifications were constructed in 1262.
  • As was the case in other towns, two rival clans erected towers in San Gimignano; these "dungeon houses" were symbols of power and security.
  • In 1353, at a time when free communes were being progressively transformed into seigneuries, San Gimignano submitted to the seigneury of Florence.
M. Giacomo Bassi
Comune di San Gimignano
Piazza del Duomo, 2
53037 San Gimignano, Siena, Italia
+39.577 9901
+39.577 990358
M. Alberto Sardelli
Comune di San Gimignano
Piazza del Duomo, 2
53037 San Gimignano, Italia
+39.577 990304
+39.577 990804