San Gimigniano

San Gimignano made a comeback in the 19th century, when it was discovered by northern European tourists...

About an hour's drive from Cortona, you can organize a day trip to San Gimignano; a very famous town, with a glorious history.
San Gimignano was born along the Via Francigena - initially a very small village (about 1000 years ago).
The trade and flow of people who travelled the road that connected Canterbury to Rome (which also passed through Lucca, Siena, Parma ...) made the town grow quickly; as did the construction of two surrounding walls and a series of important buildings, all symbols of families who were becoming rich and wanted to show off their lineage; the towers (there are dozens of them, of which the tallest is the Torre Grossa, where the town hall stands) are signs of the rivalry between the families as to who could be the most visible.
After an initial phase of growth, the town had setbacks due to the Black Plague of the mid-1300s (in which more than half of the local population died). This was followed by a brief return to prosperity before it plunged back down into relative obscurity under the Florentine dominion, which centralized wealth and influence in the capital.
San Gimignano made a comeback in the 19th century, when it was discovered by northern European tourists who, seeing it as the perfect Medieval town, included it as a part of their Grand Italian Tour.
From that moment on, tourism became a constant and the town undertook to renew itself in the hope of encouraging yet more tourism: Everything that had been added in the Florentine style was removed (plastering, battlements etc...)  and returned to a medieval style, in order to attract tourists; facades were returned to brick and stone; arcades and new spaces were created.
Today there is an imposing fortified wall surrounding the town, a large historical town centre - piazzas, antique wells, historic buildings, all in materials associated with the Middle Ages ... it creates a unique atmosphere in a beautiful setting.
I can't suggest a place to eat in San Gimignano, but there are at least two art galleries that are worth visiting: the first is Galleria Continua, an evocative space created inside an old theatre; it is home to exhibitions of internationally known artists with galleries also based in Beijing, Paris, Havana, Rome.
Exhibit at Galleria Continua
Galleria Continua
The second is Galleria Gagliardi, certainly more traditional, with a beautiful exhibition space and artists of quality.
Finally, I suggest a visit to the Campitelli house, a nineteenth-century bourgeois residence, where the Fai (the Italian Environmental Foundation) has created a small museum; you can see photographs, details, and period furnishing in situ; an evocative moment of living in the past.
Campitelli Museo
Period furnishings
Inside the museum
In addition, on the top floor which in itself is a tower, you can look out onto the town and other towers.  
There is also a video of about 30 minutes that tells the story of the town in a fun and accurate way.
The entrance fee is E.7 – in my opinion 7 euro well spent.
Nicola Burazzi, 26/10/2020 17:47:27
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