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What to See and Do

What to See and Do

The cistern located in Piazza della Cisterna gave it its name. Around the square the houses and towers were constructed in the 1200s and 1300s.
Some of the main attractions in the town are Piazza del Duomo, crowned by the Romanesque basilica (Collegiata), the Palazzo del Podestà with its Torre della Rognosa and the town hall located in the Palazzo Comunale.
After climbing the steps of the Collegiata (Picture 2)  and crossing its simple façade you will see the fabulous interiors decorated with beautiful frescoes from the 14th century, and black and white columns and arches which divide the naves. The Last Judgement by Taddeo di Bartolo and the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Benozzo Gozzoli are painted on the back wall. Paradise and Inferno by Taddeo di Bartolo cover the upper left side and the upper right side of the rear wall. These depictions were considered to be true to life and thus terrified the medieval population.
If you stand facing the altar  you can admire the the depictions of God’s creation of the world on the left wall: the forbidden fruit scene, the eviction of Adam and Eve from the garden, Cain murdering his brother, Noah ‘s ark, Moses guiding the Jews to their promised land and Job’s story. The depictions on the right wall were created by Simone Martini ‘s school and finished in the 14th century. They are arranged chronologically  over different levels going from the Annunciation, Epiphany, the Massacre of the Children, Jesus’ life and finally to his Death and Resurrection. In spite of having suffered during the war, they are still well preserved.
To the right is the Cappella di Santa Fina, which features frescoes representing the life of the saint created by Domenico Ghirlandaio, and an altar of alabaster and marble.
Heading for Piazza Pecori you will find Museo d’Arte Sacra which exhibits religious art artwork, wooden statues from the Middle Ages, artefacts made from precious metals, hand crafted objects, vestments, painteings, crosses and manuscripts mostly brought from San Gimignano‘s churches. Il Volto Santo Adorato is worth a look. It was painted by Sebastiano Mainardi who depicted two people with hoods which look like KKK members praising an elegant crucified Jesus .
The Palazzo Comunale (photo 1) was built at the end of the 13th century, expanded in the 16th century and further modified with the addition of a neo-gothic façade in the 19th century. It houses a picture gallery among which  the most remarkable pieces are Lippo Memmi’s 14th century fresco Maestà with  Mary and baby Jesus surrounded by angels and saints. There are frescoes depicting castles, joust and hunting scenes. There are also religious artefacts such as a 16th century crucifix created by Coppo di Marcovaldo and circular paintings by Filippino Lippi. On the first floor you will find a collection of frescoes depicting festive wedding scenes. The
 palazzo’s tower also has a stunning view of San Gimignano and its landscape.

The Wine Museum is located outside San Gimignano´s fortress. You can make use of the sommeliers advice to choose the best local white wines.
On Via Folgore da San Gimignano you will find the Museo Archeologico housing Etruscan, Roman and medieval finds in San Gimignano and a gallery of modern art exhibiting Renato Guttuso and Raffaele de Grada’s works among other temporary exhibits. There is also a section called the Speziera housing ceramic and glass vessels found in the refurbished Speziera di Santa Fina which dates back to the 1500s.
To make the most of what the town has to offer you can purchase a combined ticket which includes admission to the Palazzo Comunale, its museum, the Archeological Museum, the Torre Grossa and other places, or another ticket combining the Collegiata and the Museo d’Arte Sacra.
The rocca (Picture 3) is what is left of the fortress of San Gimignano. From there you can enjoy fabulous views of the landscape while the children play in the playground.
The Museo Ornitologico on Via Quercecchio is south of the rocca and houses a collection dating from the last part of the 19th century.
The Chiesa di Sant’Agostino on the eponymous piazza in the northern most part of San Gimignano features a fresco cycle painted by Benozzo Gozzoli representing the saint’s life.
On Via del Castello in the ancient theatre, the Galleria Continua changes its exhibits approximately every two months. It was established in order to encourage contemporary artists worldwide to come to the country. The gallery was conceived to encourage contemporary artists in a setting with a strong ancient tradition and  to attract important yet not so renowned artists all the world over.
There are organized tours to vineyards twice a week in the summer and part of spring. For further information contact the tourist information office.
The tourist information office is on Piazza del Duomo. You can also see
 www.sangimignano.com. Besides getting information there you can also hire an audio guide to take you through the town.