San Gimignano
Overview
 
San Gimignano is a small walled
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

 medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 hill town
Hill town
Hill town is the term used to describe citadel towns built upon hills to ward off invaders. Often protected by defensive walls, steep embankments, or cliffs, such hilltop settlements provided natural defenses for their inhabitants....

 in the province of Siena
Province of Siena
The Province of Siena is a province in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Siena.It has an area of 3,821 km² , and a total population of 252,288 . There are 36 comuni in the province...

, Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town.

The town also is known for the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Vernaccia is a white Italian wine, made from the Vernaccia grape, produced in and around the Italian hill town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Since the Renaissance it has been considered one of Italy's finest white wines...

, grown in the area.
San Gimignano was founded as a small village in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

. Historical records begin in the 10th century, when it adopted the name of the bishop Saint Geminianus, who had defended it from Attila's
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

 Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 era, it was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrim
Pilgrim
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journeying to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system...

s on their way to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and the Vatican
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

, as it sits on the medieval Via Francigena
Via Francigena
The Via Francigena is an ancient road between Rome and Canterbury, passing through England, France, Switzerland and Italy. In mediaeval times it was an important road and pilgrimage route...

.
Encyclopedia
San Gimignano is a small walled
Defensive wall
A defensive wall is a fortification used to protect a city or settlement from potential aggressors. In ancient to modern times, they were used to enclose settlements...

 medieval
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 hill town
Hill town
Hill town is the term used to describe citadel towns built upon hills to ward off invaders. Often protected by defensive walls, steep embankments, or cliffs, such hilltop settlements provided natural defenses for their inhabitants....

 in the province of Siena
Province of Siena
The Province of Siena is a province in the Tuscany region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Siena.It has an area of 3,821 km² , and a total population of 252,288 . There are 36 comuni in the province...

, Tuscany
Tuscany
Tuscany is a region in Italy. It has an area of about 23,000 square kilometres and a population of about 3.75 million inhabitants. The regional capital is Florence ....

, north-central Italy. It is mainly famous for its medieval architecture, especially its towers, which may be seen from several kilometres outside the town.

The town also is known for the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
Vernaccia is a white Italian wine, made from the Vernaccia grape, produced in and around the Italian hill town of San Gimignano in Tuscany. Since the Renaissance it has been considered one of Italy's finest white wines...

, grown in the area.

History

San Gimignano was founded as a small village in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans
Etruscan civilization
Etruscan civilization is the modern English name given to a civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany. The ancient Romans called its creators the Tusci or Etrusci...

. Historical records begin in the 10th century, when it adopted the name of the bishop Saint Geminianus, who had defended it from Attila's
Attila the Hun
Attila , more frequently referred to as Attila the Hun, was the ruler of the Huns from 434 until his death in 453. He was leader of the Hunnic Empire, which stretched from the Ural River to the Rhine River and from the Danube River to the Baltic Sea. During his reign he was one of the most feared...

 Huns
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence of the Huns,...

.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 era, it was a stopping point for Catholic pilgrim
Pilgrim
A pilgrim is a traveler who is on a journey to a holy place. Typically, this is a physical journeying to some place of special significance to the adherent of a particular religious belief system...

s on their way to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 and the Vatican
St. Peter's Basilica
The Papal Basilica of Saint Peter , officially known in Italian as ' and commonly known as Saint Peter's Basilica, is a Late Renaissance church located within the Vatican City. Saint Peter's Basilica has the largest interior of any Christian church in the world...

, as it sits on the medieval Via Francigena
Via Francigena
The Via Francigena is an ancient road between Rome and Canterbury, passing through England, France, Switzerland and Italy. In mediaeval times it was an important road and pilgrimage route...

. The city's development also was improved by the trade of agricultural products from the fertile neighbouring hills.

In 1199, during the period of its highest splendour, the city made itself independent from the bishops of Volterra
Volterra
Volterra, known to the ancient Etruscans as Velathri, to the Romans as Volaterrae, is a town and comune in the Tuscany region of Italy.-History:...

. Divisions between Guelphs and Ghibellines
Guelphs and Ghibellines
The Guelphs and Ghibellines were factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in central and northern Italy. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the split between these two parties was a particularly important aspect of the internal policy of the Italian city-states...

 troubled the inner life of the commune
Medieval commune
Medieval communes in the European Middle Ages had sworn allegiances of mutual defense among the citizens of a town or city. They took many forms, and varied widely in organization and makeup. Communes are first recorded in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, thereafter becoming a widespread...

, which nonetheless, still managed to embellish itself with artworks and architectures.

Saint Fina
Saint Fina
Saint Fina , or Saint Serafina, was an Italian Roman Catholic girl who is venerated in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano.-Life:Finadei Ciardi was born in San Gimignano on 1238...

, known also as Seraphina and Serafina, was a 13th century Italian saint
Saint
A saint is a holy person. In various religions, saints are people who are believed to have exceptional holiness.In Christian usage, "saint" refers to any believer who is "in Christ", and in whom Christ dwells, whether in heaven or in earth...

 born in San Gimignano during 1238. Since Saint Fina died on March 12, 1253 her feast day
Calendar of saints
The calendar of saints is a traditional Christian method of organizing a liturgical year by associating each day with one or more saints and referring to the feast day of said saint...

 became March 12. Her major shrine is in San Gimignano and the house said to be her home still stands in the town.

On May 8, 1300, San Gimignano hosted Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri
Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

 in his role of ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany.

The city flourished until 1348, when the Black Death
Black Death
The Black Death was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, peaking in Europe between 1348 and 1350. Of several competing theories, the dominant explanation for the Black Death is the plague theory, which attributes the outbreak to the bacterium Yersinia pestis. Thought to have...

 that affected all of Europe, compelled it to submit to Florence
Florence
Florence is the capital city of the Italian region of Tuscany and of the province of Florence. It is the most populous city in Tuscany, with approximately 370,000 inhabitants, expanding to over 1.5 million in the metropolitan area....

. San Gimignano became a secondary centre until the 19th century, when its status as a touristic and artistic resort began to be recognised.

Main sights

While in other cities, such as Bologna
Bologna
Bologna is the capital city of Emilia-Romagna, in the Po Valley of Northern Italy. The city lies between the Po River and the Apennine Mountains, more specifically, between the Reno River and the Savena River. Bologna is a lively and cosmopolitan Italian college city, with spectacular history,...

 or Florence, most or all of their towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal
Urban renewal
Urban renewal is a program of land redevelopment in areas of moderate to high density urban land use. Renewal has had both successes and failures. Its modern incarnation began in the late 19th century in developed nations and experienced an intense phase in the late 1940s – under the rubric of...

, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying height which have become its international symbol.

There are many churches in the town: the two main ones are the Collegiata
Collegiata di San Gimignano
thumb|300px|View of the Collegiata.The Collegiata is the main church of San Gimignano, Tuscany, central Italy, situated in the Piazza del Duomo at the town's heart. It was once the Duomo , but since San Gimignano no longer has a bishop it has reverted to the status of a collegiate church.The first...

, formerly a cathedral, and Sant'Agostino, housing a wide representation of artworks from some of the main Italian renaissance
Italian Renaissance
The Italian Renaissance began the opening phase of the Renaissance, a period of great cultural change and achievement in Europe that spanned the period from the end of the 13th century to about 1600, marking the transition between Medieval and Early Modern Europe...

 artists.

The Communal Palace
Palazzo Comunale (San Gimignano)
The Palazzo Comunale of San Gimignano is in the Piazza del Duomo close to the Collegiata church. Also known as the Palazzo del Popolo , the palazzo has been the seat of civic power in the comune since the 13th century...

, once seat of the podestà
Podestà
Podestà is the name given to certain high officials in many Italian cities, since the later Middle Ages, mainly as Chief magistrate of a city state , but also as a local administrator, the representative of the Emperor.The term derives from the Latin word potestas, meaning power...

, is currently home of the town gallery, with works by Pinturicchio
Pinturicchio
Bernardino di Betto, called Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio was an Italian painter of the Renaissance. He acquired his nickname, Pintoricchio , because of his small stature, and he used it to sign some of his works....

, Benozzo Gozzoli
Benozzo Gozzoli
Benozzo Gozzoli was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. He is best known for a series of murals in the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi depicting festive, vibrant processions with wonderful attention to detail and a pronounced International Gothic influence.-Apprenticeship:He was born Benozzo di...

, Filippino Lippi
Filippino Lippi
Filippino Lippi was an Italian painter working during the High Renaissance in Florence, Italy.-Biography:...

, Domenico di Michelino
Domenico di Michelino
Domenico di Michelino was an Italian painter of the Florentine school and a follower of the style of Fra Angelico. He was born and died in Florence.Michelino predominantly painted scenes from the Bible...

, Pier Francesco Fiorentino
Pier Francesco Fiorentino
Pier Francesco Fiorentino , was a 15th century Florentine painter.-See also:*Anonymous masters...

 and others. From Dante's Hall in the palace, access may be made to a Majesty fresco by Lippo Memmi
Lippo Memmi
Lippo Memmi was an Italian painter from Siena. He was the foremost follower of Simone Martini, who was his brother-in-law....

, as well as the Torre del Podestà or Torre Grossa, 1311, which stands fifty-four metres high.

The heart of the town contains the four squares, the Piazza della Cisterna
Piazza della Cisterna
Piazza della Cisterna is a piazza in San Gimignano, Italy. It has a triangular shape with a slight natural slope and is connected to the nearby Piazza del Duomo by an open passage. The pavement is brick and the piazza is surrounded by houses and medieval towers.In the south-west corner, the...

, the Piazza Duomo where the Collegiata is located, the Piazza Pecori and the Piazza delle Erbe. The main streets are Via San Matteo and Via San Giovanni, which cross the city from north to south.

Culture

San Gimignano is the birthplace of the poet Folgore da San Gimignano
Folgóre da San Gimignano
Folgóre da San Gimignano, pseudonym of Giacomo di Michele or Jacopo di Michele was an Italian poet.He represented mostly hunting scenes, jousts of the citadine bourgeoisie of Tuscany. 32 sonnets are attributed to him, written around 1308-1316. The most famous ones are the corone dedicated to the...

 (1270–1332).

A fictionalised version of San Gimignano is featured in E. M. Forster
E. M. Forster
Edward Morgan Forster OM, CH was an English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society...

's 1905 novel, Where Angels Fear to Tread
Where Angels Fear to Tread
Where Angels Fear to Tread is a novel by E. M. Forster, originally entitled Monteriano. The title comes from a line in Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism: "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread"....

as Monteriano
Monteriano
Monteriano is a fictional Tuscan hill town. It was the original title and is the principal locale of E. M. Forster's 1905 novel Where Angels Fear to Tread. The author describes the town in an incomplete faux entry to Central Italy by Baedeker as follows:—The location of Monteriano is not...

.

Tea with Mussolini
Tea with Mussolini
Tea with Mussolini is a 1999 British-Italian semi-autobiographical film directed by Franco Zeffirelli, telling the story of young Italian boy Luca's upbringing by a circle of English and American women, before and during World War II.-Plot:...

, a 1999 drama about the plight of English and American expatriate women in Italy during World War II
Italian Campaign (World War II)
The Italian Campaign of World War II was the name of Allied operations in and around Italy, from 1943 to the end of the war in Europe. Joint Allied Forces Headquarters AFHQ was operationally responsible for all Allied land forces in the Mediterranean theatre, and it planned and commanded the...

, was filmed in part at San Gimignano. The frescoes that the women save from being destroyed during the German Army's withdrawal are inside the Duomo, the town's main church.

In the novel The Broker
The Broker
The Broker is a suspense novel written by American author John Grisham published in the United States on January 11, 2005. The novel follows the story of Joel Backman, a newly-pardoned prisoner who had tried to broker a deal to give the world's most powerful satellite surveillance system to the...

by John Grisham
John Grisham
John Ray Grisham, Jr. is an American lawyer and author, best known for his popular legal thrillers.John Grisham graduated from Mississippi State University before attending the University of Mississippi School of Law in 1981 and practiced criminal law for about a decade...

, Joel Backman takes his second of three wives on vacation in Italy to keep her from divorcing him. They rent a 14th century monastery near San Gimignano for a month.

M. C. Escher
M. C. Escher
Maurits Cornelis Escher , usually referred to as M. C. Escher , was a Dutch graphic artist. He is known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints...

's 1923 woodcut, San Gimignano, depicts the celebrated towers.

15th century San Gimignano may be explored in the video game Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed II
Assassin's Creed II is a historical third-person action-adventure video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal and published by Ubisoft for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. It is the second video game installment of the Assassin's Creed series, and is a sequel to the 2007 video...

.

Located in the heart of the city, the museum SanGimignano1300
SanGimignano1300
SanGimignano1300 is an artistic and historical museum located in the old City of San Gimignano. The Museum was inaugurated in February 2010.- Location:...

offers a massive reconstruction of the city as it existed 700 years ago. Architects, historians, and a team of artists worked nearly 3 years to create this spectacular and unprecedented exhibition. This exhibit includes 800 meticulously handcrafted structures, 72 towers, street scenes, and figurines.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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