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San Gimignano and its towers, a jump into the Middle Ages

Posted by GLflorence on November 4, 2019

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A small village hidden into Val d’Elsa hills, San Gimignano is a real jewel that cannot be leaved out of your bucket list. Also known as “the City of Fine Towers” and the “Medieval Manhattan”, it’s impossible not to notice the many towers which create the beautiful skyline of the town. At the beginning they were 72 and they were built by San Gimignano's rich families who wanted to show their power off. Nowadays we can observe just 13 of them, all with their specific names and stories.

Torre Grossa, the highest tower of San Gimignano

With its 54 meters, Torre Grossa is the highest tower of the village. They began to build it in 1300 and finished 11 years later. It’s one of the best preserved and maintained towers and it's open to visitors. It's also possible to reach the top and admire the stunning view of the village and its surroundings, same as Torri Gemelle (we'll talk about them later). Torre Grossa is situated in Piazza del Duomo, on the side of Palazzo del Podestà. 

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Torri degli Ardinghelli, a war story

These towers can be found in piazza della Cisterna. The Ardinghelli were the most powerful Guelph's family of San Gimignano and their enemies were the Salvucci, who were Ghibellines. If you have the chance to walk around Cisterna's square, you’ll notice that they’re halved, this caused by the rivalry between the two families. 

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Torri dei Salvucci, the Ghibelline's towers 

Best known as Torri Gemelle (the Twin Towers), their originally height was 52 meters. They were also halved because they didn't respect the construction laws of the village. It's for this reason that they are not the same height: one is called Torre dei Salvucci Minore, while the other one is Maggiore. They have a square base and are characterized by narrow gates. 

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Torre Rognosa, don't get too close to it!

Also called "Torre dell’Orologio" (the Clock Tower) or "Torre del Podestà" (Tower of the Chief Magistrate), it’s one of the highest towers of San Gimignano. It can be found in Piazza del Duomo and it’s one of the most preserved ones. Built in 1200, it was Gregori’s family property at the beginning, becoming Oti’s afterwards. When the Podestà entered the tower, this became a prison: people always avoided to get too close to it, since it brought "rogne" (problems): from there the name of the construction

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Torre del Diavolo, between legend and truth

We always make fun of Pisa’s leaning tower, taking pictures and playing with perspective, but you have to know that San Gimignano has its weird tower as well. For instance, the Devil’s Tower takes its name from a legend (or true story, who knows): apparently the owner went away for a long time and when he came back, he found out that the tower was higher than before! San Gimignano’s citizens said it was devil’s work and named the tower after him. This building is different from the others, because it’s made of white limestone and has a mysterious and esoteric aspect. 

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Torre Chigi, the tower which can’t be reached

Let’s now talk about the most beautiful tower of San Gimignano, Torre Chigi. Built in 1280 by Useppi’s family, the peculiarity of this construction lays in its entrance door, which is placed at the first floor. Since the families wars made the village dangerous, they decided to use a ladder to climb down of their house and get to the street during the day, taking it off at night time. 

San Gimignano has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage since 1990, and it’s considered a hidden gem that is definitely worth visiting. Still thinking about it? Join our Tour to discover, together with Siena and Monteriggioni, all the secrets of this beautiful village!

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