Towers of San Gimignano – San Gimignano, Italy - Atlas Obscura

Towers of San Gimignano

These medieval skyscrapers dominate the skyline of this small Tuscan town. 


In the age of the Renaissance, Tuscany was the center of the Western World. Its towns and cities grew insanely wealthy from a dense network of trade routes that spanned the Mediterranean and continental Europe. Florence, Sienna and Pisa are home of some of the most iconic architectural and artistic marvels of Italy. However, many more incredible are hidden away in smaller towns scattered across the region.

The small town of San Gimignano lies conveniently on one of most important medieval pilgrimage routes. Its inhabitants exploited the situation well. Made quickly rich by the constant influx of pilgrims, the families of San Gimigano wanted to show off. Each of them yearned to have a palace, but only thing that could be crammed between the tight confines of town walls was a tower. Merchant families of San Gimignano entered an informal contest of building a higher and more splendid stone tower. The law forbade building the tower higher than the main communal one, known as Rognosa. Owning one become a status symbol. At the peak of fashion San Gimignano boasted no less the 72 of them.

Today only 15 remain. In 1348 the Plague devastated the city and it faded in obscurity, until it was rediscovered as tourist attraction in 19th century. The historic center of San Gimignano is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A similar Tuscan tower, the Torre Guinigi Tower can be seen in the small town of Lucca, only 77.4 km away via the SS439 and SP11.

Know Before You Go

The address listed above is for Torre Grossa, but various towers are spread within walking distance throughout San Gimignano.

San Gimignano is regularly served by numerous daily buses of SITA that connect it to Florence, Siena and Poggibonsi.

The closest train station to San Gimignano is 13 km away in Poggibonsi on the Empoli-Siena railway, which is only 13 km away. Poggibonsi is connected by multi bus services with San Gimignano.

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