San Gimignano Journals

Gimi, Gimi, Gimi - The Medieval Manhattan

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A March 2008 trip to San Gimignano by Liam Hetherington

The Medieval Manhattan Photo, San Gimignano, Italy More Photos
Quote: The quintessential Tuscan hill town, the beautiful San Gimignano has its medieval skyline of teetering towers to reward its visitors.

San Gimignano (General)

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Story/Tip

Towers Photo, San Gimignano, Italy
Quote:
San Gimignano is the quintessential Tuscan hill town. It is also well on the tourist trail – but for very good reasons! In fact I would say there are four very good reasons for taking a day trip out to San Gimignano if you should find yourself in Tuscany.1) Its state of preservation. Sad to say, but poverty protects. San Gimignano had a flourishing of great wealth in the 13th and 14th century due to its position on the Via Francigena trade route north from Rome through Tuscany. Added to this it had two notable exports of its own – the spice saffron, so important to the town that the medieval council used it to pay off their debts, and the local white vernaccia wine beloved of popes, potent...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2009

A Walking Tour of San Gimignano

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Story/Tip

Via San Giovanni Photo, San Gimignano, Italy
Quote:
As the bus to San Gimignano winds up the hill side you are presented with your first glimpse of the town’s famous towers poking above the trees in a suitably epic manner. The bus drops you right outside the Porta San Giovanni, the best-preserved gate to the city.From here follow the crowds of tourists through the gate and up the Via San Giovanni. Shops to either side sell local cheses, meats and wines alongside more obvious tourist fare such as postcards and calendars. This street will deposit you in the Piazza della Cisterna. This is the real heart of the town, centred on a rustic well, often thick with teenagers sat on its lip eating gelato. The older and wiser plump for th...Read More

Palazzo del Popolo & Torre Grossa

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Attraction

Palazzo del Popolo Photo, San Gimignano, Italy
Quote:
In this town famous for its many towers, there is only one that the tourist can ascend – the Torre Grossa, accessed from the Museo Civico in the Palazzo del Popolo. This 54m high tower was the highest in the city when it was completed in 1311. And it remained so due to a civic ordinance designed to put an end to the tower-building rivalry of the local aristocratic families dictating that no tower was allowed to be built taller. At the top it is windy – but what a view of the Tuscan terrain! The town seems to stop almost immediately below me, providing me with breath-taking views of the surrounding countryside periodically illuminated by gaps in the clouds. To pass from one side to the other you...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 16, 2009

Collegiata Cathedral

Attraction | "The Frescoed Collegiata Santa Maria Assunta"

Collegiata Cathedral Photo, San Gimignano, Italy
Quote:
If you have had your interest in the young girl who became St Fina whetted by the depictions in the Museo Civico, then don’t miss a chance to pop across the Piazza del Duomo to the Collegiata (which – despite the name of the square – is not and never has been a cathedral). It is only a small - though exquisitely decorated – Romanesque church, and it also houses the Chapel of St Fina. In the chapel there are further depictions of her austere and self-sacrificing life. Notably she slept not in a bed, but on a plank of wood. In fact she lay on this single plank for five years, prayin...Read More

Member Rating 3 out of 5 on May 16, 2009

Collegiata Cathedral

San Gimignano, Italy

Museo Archeologico/Spezeria di Santa Fina

Attraction | "Etruscan Remains and an Old Pharmacy"

Quote:
This museum is a bit of a wasted opportunity to tell the truth. There is no real stand out piece to make this museum a must see. Unless you are really, really keen on the Etruscans. For this was the heartland of that most mysterious of peoples, finally defeated by the Romans, and there are plenty of grave goods on display here.The museum is housed in a former pharmacy with 17th century accoutrements (one vase helpfully shows the year 1688) on display in the renovated kitchen, the air ripe with the scent of cinnamon & peppercorns. A modern art gallery is upstairs. Entry is €3.50 on its own, but frankly unless you are mad keen on the Etruscans it is really only worth c...Read More

Member Rating 1 out of 5 on May 16, 2009

Museo Archeologico/Spezeria di Santa Fina
Via Folgore 11
San Gimignano

Osteria delle Catene

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Restaurant | "Osteria delle Catene - A Marvellous Medieval Menu"

Osteria delle Catene Photo, San Gimignano, Italy
Quote:
San Gimignano is a wonderful day trip. However the Osteria delle Catene is the sort of place to make you wish that you were in town for longer than a day. I had a wonderful lunch here; the sort of lunch that made me hanker to stick around for dinner. The menu alone was enough to get me salivating as I noted the delicious-sounding main courses – Chianini beef, wild boar, rabbit. And all for pretty reasonable prices I must say: around €13-14. However to get the most bang for my buck on my visit I ordered a medieval San Gimignano menu de degustazione for €22 – a Tuscan soup with saffron, a meat and saffron stew, and saffron cake for pudding. I’m guessing your average medieval San Gimgnanese...Read More

Member Rating 4 out of 5 on May 16, 2009

Osteria delle Catene
Via Mainardi 18
San Gimignano, Italy
+39 0577 941966