The village of San Gimignano, located on a high hill in the Val d'Elsa, is a small fortified town halfway between Florence and Siena.
Known above all for the medieval towers that stand out on its panorama, San Gimignano has acquired the nickname of Manhattan of the Middle Ages. The oldest is the Torre Rognosa, which is 51 meters high, while the highest is the Torre del Podestà, also called Torre Grossa, 54 meters.
San Gimignano is a farming town famous for its Vernaccia wine production and saffron cultivation, which with its characteristic, pungent and slightly bitter taste can be combined with fish, vegetables and white meats.
The Vernaccia di San Gimignano is one of the finest white wines, is produced in a small area of Tuscany between Siena, Pisa and Florence coinciding with the municipal territory of San Gimignano.
It is well known and appreciated throughout the world and was the first Italian wine to receive the mark of Denomination of Controlled Origin (DOC) in 1966.
Tuscany is a region where 15 types of prized honey are produced, all of excellent quality and in San Gimignano it is produced mainly that of acacia and millefiori. In the kitchen, in addition to the combinations with cheeses, honey is excellent for the preparation of desserts.
San Gimignano was formerly inhabited by the Etruscans, at least from the 3rd century BC, due to its strategic position.
On the slopes of the hill of the town (624 m a.s.l.) there are the ruins of Castelvecchio, a village of Longobard age.
In the Middle Ages the town was located on one of the routes of the via Francigena, that Sigerico, Archbishop of Canterbury, travelled between the 990 and the 994 and that for him represented the nineteenth stage (mansio) of his return journey from Rome to England.
Sigerico nominated Sce Gemiane, indicating the village also as the point of intersection with the road between Pisa and Siena. According to tradition the name derived from the holy Bishop of Modena, that would have defended the village from the employment of Attila.
Toward 1150, despite the opening of a new route of the Via Francigena, San Gimignano continued to be an emerging center, with a policy of territorial expansion and a significant growth of commercial activities.
It was in this period that formed two "villages" outside the city walls: that of San Matteo, toward Pisa, and that of San Giovanni, toward Siena, both along a new "via maestra", which were incorporated into the walls with the new route completed in 1214.
In 1199, in the full of its economic splendour, the country gained its independence hall with respect to the Bishops of Volterra. Were not lacking the internal conflicts between Guelphs and Ghibellines, but to the XIII century, under the Ghibellines, dates back to the period of greatest splendour economic, which relied on trade of precious agricultural products local, among which the most sought was saffron, sold in Italy and abroad.
In 1251 the walls inglobarono Montestaffoli, but a few years later, in 1255, the city was taken by the Guelphs of Florence that ordered the destruction of the walls. Regained independence in 1261 and returned the supremacy ghibellina after the battle of Montaperti, sangimignanesi rebuilt the walls comprising also the poggio della Torre.
Since then the conformation town was divided into four districts, each corresponding to a master port: that of Piazza, Castle, San Matteo and San Giovanni. In 1251 the walls inglobarono Montestaffoli, but a few years later, in 1255, the city was taken by the Guelphs of Florence that ordered the destruction of the walls.
Regained independence in 1261 and returned the supremacy ghibellina after the battle of Montaperti, sangimignanesi rebuilt the walls comprising also the poggio della Torre. Since then the conformation town was divided into four districts, each corresponding to a master port: that of Piazza, Castle, San Matteo and San Giovanni.
The decline and the marginalization of the city in the subsequent centuries were the conditions that allowed the extraordinary crystallization of its medieval appearance.
Village of San Gimignano
The Municipality of San Gimignano
Province of Siena
inhabitants: 7.447 sangimignanesi
Altitude center: 324 m a.s.l.
Historic center of San Gimignano
the Municipality is part of:
Paesi Bandiera Arancione
Città del bio
Città del vino
Orange Flag - Italian Touring Club
Protected Natural Areas:
Castelvecchio Natural Reserve
Piazza del Duomo 2 - Tel. +39 0577 9901
ON THE TRAIN
If you arrive at San Gimignano any day, perhaps at dusk, when the stone streets are lost in the dark leaving the towers the last breath of light, it is not difficult to be influenced by the aspect of the town, feeling suddenly at the gates of the Middle Ages.
You enter almost foreigners, rising up the track that has given substance to the town. From the port, on to the contrada San Matteo until the heart, with the two squares: the religious with the Cathedral and the civil, called Della Cisterna, with noble houses.
The Francigena road, axis of pilgrims going to Rome, crossed the inhabited area from north to south. Also for this reason that the XIII century it was the moment of greatest economic fortune of the city and its countryside, thanks to the saffron trade throughout Europe. In the XIV century followed, however, a rapid decline, which led in 1351 to the subjugation to the city to Florence. The XIV and XV centuries were fundamental however from an artistic point of view, thanks to the presence in the city of numerous teachers, from Siena or Florence, called especially from religious orders to embellish their possessions: San Gimignano fills, thus, with works of Barna da Siena, Bartolo di Fredi, Taddeo di Bartolo, Benozzo Gozzoli.
It is as unique as its own decline and the marginality that the city has suffered until the nineteenth century were the conditions that have allowed the extraordinary crystallization of its medieval appearance: reason why today San Gimignano is counted among the Unesco World Heritage Sites.
Discover the other villages on the guide Tuscany - Unique Villages to Love
Consorzio della Vernaccia di San Gimignano, later named Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano, was established in 1972 for the correct management of the denomination of origin of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the first Italian wine to attain this recognition, in 1966. Since its establishment the Consortium has pursued three fundamental aims:
The Consortium worked towards attainment by the DOC Vernaccia di San Gimignano of DOCG recognition in 1993. It also worked for the birth, in 1996, of the San Gimignano Rosso DOC, which became San Gimignano DOC in 2012, with which it is possible to make “Rosso”, “Rosato” and “Vin Santo”.
These include the selection of new clones of the Vernaccia di San Gimignano grape variety, which began in 1994 in collaboration with Florence University and the plant nursery Vivai Rauscedo, and led to the homologation of eight new Vernaccia clones between 2002 and 2007; the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Sensorial Identity project, accomplished with the staff of Professor Bertuccioli of Florence University, which led, in 2008, to the definition of the sensorial profile of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, a tool that is essential to the recognition of the grape variety through sensorial analysis; the identification of the DNA of Vernaccia di San Gimignano and its traceability in wine, a research pursued by the Sergè company of Siena University, with the contribution of the Province of Siena, starting from 2009, which led to the identification of the DNA of Vernaccia in 2010 and continued with the study on traceability, completed in 2012.
In 2012, the year of the fortieth anniversary of its foundation, Consorzio della Denominazione San Gimignano attained the Erga Omnes, the extension of the institutional tasks to all users of the denomination (appellation), members and non-members, obliging the latter to contribute to the consortium’s activities.
This is a historical step through which the legislation recognises that the promotional and defensive activities managed by Consortia provide benefits to all users of the denomination. To achieve a constant general qualitative improvement in the production of both grapes and wine, the Consortium organises constant refresher courses aimed at its members for the agronomical management of vineyards and cellar techniques, and creates projects in conjunction with Research Institutes.