What to See and Do
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
), 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
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
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.
(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
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.