The Towers Of San Gimignano
While in Tuscany we stayed at an Agritourismo run by a delightful couple. They strongly recommended that we visit the town of San Gimignano. We follow local recommendations so off we went.
San Gimignano is the quintessential Tuscan hilltop town situated 25 miles southwest of Florence and 25 miles northwest of Siena. Spreading out below is are the orchards, vineyards and farms that have produced its food for centuries. The area of San Gimignano had his first inhabitants in prehistory, but the first relevant settlements date back to the archaic Etruscan period. The first historical document mentioning the name of the town is dated 30th August 929.
According to travel guru Rick Steve’s website: "San Gimignano is beloved because of its skyline of medieval towers. Though a unique sight today, pointy skylines were the norm in Tuscany in the Middle Ages, when feuding noble families ran the hill towns (think Montagues and Capulets). Each family had its own private army that would periodically battle things out from the protection of its respective family towers. While some were built as a refuge against attackers, others were empty, chimney-like structures built only to boost noble egos.”
"In the 14th century, San Gimignano, like other hill towns, fell under Florence's control. The Florentines usually asserted their power over the local nobles by ordering them to lop off their towers. But for whatever reason, some of San Gimignano's original skyline was allowed to remain intact. Today, 14 of its original 72 towers still stand."