VALDELSA

SAN GIMIGNANO

Located north of Siena at the top of a high Val d’Elsa hill, San Gimignano is a jewel of medieval architecture that remained remarkably intact, so as to be recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Regardless of which way you chose to approach the town, its distinctive “skyline” will leap to the eye from long distances. In fact, the city has retained sixteen medieval towers, some up to 50 meters high, witnessing the struggles for supremacy among the most important families in town, divided by commercial rivalry or their belonging to either the Guelph or the Ghibelline faction. Most of the towers stand out to frame the two main squares, Piazza Duomo, hosting both the Cathedral and the Podestà Palace, and Piazza Cisterna, which used to be an open-air market as well as a natural theater for tournaments and celebrations. As for local products, besides Vernaccia, arguably the best Tuscan white wine, the peculiar cultivation of saffron is also worth mentioning, a rare spice that has long been exported to Italy and abroad since medieval times. Entering San Gimignano is an experience that will make the dreams of young and old visitors come true, letting them feel as the characters of a medieval saga. Such a compendium of iconic medieval elements eventually led San Gimignano to be chosen as the setting for movies, and even video games.