San Gimignano

San Gimignano... 18 kilometres from Borgoiano. San Gimignano is known as the "town of the beautiful towers". Its unmistakable skyline has silhouetted for centuries in the surrounding country which still produces its old and famous wine: the "Vernaccia".

Whichever side you come from, you will see San Gimignano stand out on the 334-metre hill with its numerous towers. There are now 13 of them, but it seems that back in the 1300's they were 72, as many as the town's wealthy families, the only ones who could afford to erect a tower to boast their economic power.

San Gimignano is certainly worth an extended visit. This town is a real art jewel that maintains the charm of the ancient times.

Beautiful examples are the Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, a collegiate church built in the 12th century, and the Church of Sant'Agostino, frescoed by Benozzo Gozzoli. Also worth visiting are the churches of San Pietro, San Jacopo and San Bartolo, the Palazzo del PodestÓ with a fresco by Sodoma, the Fonti (a 12th-century building used for the washing of wool). The Piazza della Cisterna, with its beautiful well in the central part of the square, is a spectacular sight.

The town is also the site of numerous museums, namely the Etruscan and the Sacred Art Museums and the Pinacoteca Civica, or Civic Picture Gallery. Not far from San Gimignano, the Pieve di Cellore, a 13th-century parish church.

In more recent times, the town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Centre thanks to its ability to preserve its works of art.