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History of San Gimignano


According to legend, San Gimignano was founded by two young patrician brothers who escaped from Rome and built the town’s first two castles in 63 B.C.: the Castle of Mucchio and the Castle of Silvia would later become the groundwork of San Gimignano. The town grew principally in the first three centuries of the Millennium, with a geographical position comprised of hills, valleys, and streams that was extremely advantageous to inhabitants. San Gimignano developed around the pilgrimage route from France to Rome, known as the Via Francigena.

The town is famous for its towers, where only 13 of the original 72 remain. Around the first half of the 14th century, the commune of San Gimignano ceded to Florence and experienced a drastic depopulation and economic decline.  Towers fell down or were torn down, palaces damaged, and subsequently San Gimignano fell into a period of historical inactivity. The historical center therefore remained virtually untouched during the period of gothic renovation.  Since the 15th century, a few modern renovations have taken place, including the Rocca di Montestaffoli, a fortress built by the Florentines for defense against Siena. San Gimignano benefited from reforms in the 18th century. Agriculture expanded, the population began to rise, and the historical center experienced an incredible revival in the rediscovery of the Middle Ages. Several buildings were repaired and renovated, followed by exponential growth in cultural tourism. Today the “town of towers” attracts millions of visitors yearly, is home to 8,000 inhabitants, and enjoys prosperous agricultural and agro-touristic activities.