‘San Gimignano delle belle Torri’ is 32 miles southwest of Florence. It is considered the Manhattan of Tuscany. The majestic skyline of noble towers was built for defensive purposes and as a symbol of status and wealth.
It served as an important relay point for pilgrims traveling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. The patrician families who controlled the town built 72 tower houses (some as high as 50 meters) as symbols of their power. The Torre Grossa is still open to the public. Although only 13 of the original towers have survived, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance.
The town has several masterpieces of 14th and 15th century Italian art including Ghirlandaio’s frescoes with episodes from the life of St. Fina. “The Annunciation” and “Death of Saint Fina” were painted in 1478 in The Chapel of Santa Fina at the Romanesque Collegiata cathedral. In the cathedral there are also notable frescos by Bartolo di Fredi and Benozzo Gozzoli. Taddeo di Bartolo’s frescoes including the “Last Judgement” (1393-1396) are amazing.
Visit the Basilica of the Assumption of Mary. It is one of the most outstanding examples of Romanesque architecture in Tuscany. Famous frescoes grace the interior. The nave has a magnificent work by Bartolo di Fredi. His “Old Testament” has 20 panels that include “The Creation of Man, Adam and Eve, Noah’s Ark, Moses, and Job.” Barna da Siena’s “New Testament” graces the wall of the right nave. Visit the splendid Chapel of Santa Fina with frescoes by Domenico del Ghirlandaio.
Then climb 175 feet to the top of Museo Civico’s forbidding fortress completed in 1311. Climb to the top of the tower through the museum entrance for a panoramic view.
Now you have definitely earned the “World’s Best Gelato” at Pluripremiata in the square by the cistern. To learn more about Tuscany visit www.vino-con-vista.com and Vino Con Vista Travel Guides can be purchased at these sites