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San Gimignano, The Town of Fine Towers

"As a matter of fact, I'm writing a book. My memoirs: Letters from San Gimignano." ~ Tea with Mussolini

sunny 20 °C
View Italy and Paris April 2015 on Anja Fourie's travel map.

The tiny, walled town of San Gimignano is high up on the rolling hills of Tuscany. The hilltop towns were built so the enemies could easily be seen from a far. There is also evidence that Attila the Hun and his Hun army lived in this part of Italy. When trying to take over a castle at Silvio, the Saint Geminianus intervened to save the castle. The church that was built on the site was named after him and the walled city of San Gimignano grew around it.

The skyline of San Gimignano

During the Black Death in 1348, more than half of the population of San Gimignano died. After this period, the growth that the town was experiencing stagnated. The town submitted to Florentine rule and many of the towers were reduced to the height of the houses. Today, it is still very much the same Gothic and Medieval town from centuries ago.

San Gimignano has also featured in many movies, such as Tea with Mussolini, and it is not hard to see why.

Scenes from Tea with Mussolini in San Gimignano's square


San Gimignano is not know as the 'Town of Fine Towers' for no reason. During the Middle Ages, rival families keen to show off their wealth, started to built towers, the one higher than the other. By the end of the Medieval Period, the town had a total of 72 towers. The town council then ordered that no tower be built higher than the tower of the Palazza Comunale and this seemed to end the rivalry. During the ages most towers have been destroyed by war and natural catastrophes. Today, only 14 towers remain, but these Medieval skyscrapers are still an impressive sight to behold.

The Palazza Comunal (Municipal Palace) has been the seat of authority for San Gimignano since the 13th century. Next to it is the highest tower in the town, the Torre Grossa (Great Tower). It stand at 54m. Climb the tower for amazing views of the town.

Torre Grossa

Eating gelato on the steps of the Torre Grossa

Views from the Torre Grossa


After enjoying the sights of San Gimignano, we headed towards Fattoria Poggio Alloro, a wine farm just 5km outside of the town. Here we did a tour of the cellar and met some farm animals. We also attended a great class where we all made our own pasta. It was then cooked and served to us for lunch. During lunch we also tasted the Vernaccia wine, which is made solely from the grapes in this region.
Check out the farm here: Fattoria Poggio Alloro

Fattoria Poggio Alloro, making and eating our own pasta


The view of San Gimignano from the farm's restaurant

Next stop: The Cradle of the Renaissance, Florence

Posted by Anja Fourie 23:43 Archived in Italy Tagged food italy wine pasta san_gimignano making_pasta

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Wonderful San Gimignano. Most beautiful town in Tuscany!

by Helena Fourie

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