For such a small community, there’s quite a lot here. Unfortunately, due to weather conditions and timing we didn’t get to all of them. We did, however, stop in at the Palazzo Comunale and the Torre Grossa, two of San Gimignano’s main attractions.
The Palazzo Comunale, the former Town Hall, is located in Piazza della Duomo. The Palazzo, which was used historically as the residence of the Podestà (the Mayor) and the meeting place of the Public Council, was constructed between 1289 and 1298.
Today it serves as the historical seat of the Musei Civici (the Civic Museums founded in 1853) and houses the Pinacoteca or Picture Gallery. Your tour of the Palazzo Comunale takes you through the various Council Chambers decorated with beautiful frescoes and artwork of the Florentine School. In the “Sala di Dante“, the ancient Council Hall named in honor of poet Dante Alighieri,
you’ll see Lippo Memmi’s wall-covering 14th century fresco titled Maestà (Majesty).
At 54 meters tall or just over 177 feet, the Torre Grossa (the Great Tower) was built in 1311 and is the tallest of San Gimignano’s medieval towers. A climb to the top is one of our recommended things to do in town.
The bird’s eye view of the surrounding countryside
and the rows of tiled rooftops is spectacular.
Access to the top is via a wide metal stairway with landings, rather than a circular stone stairwell.
It’s a fairly easy climb, except for the slightly awkward uppermost section; about 15 rungs on a small ship’s ladder through a narrow opening – mind your head, camera and sunglasses! Access to the tower is from the main entrance of the Palazzo Comunale.