What to do in San Gimignano – Palazzo Comunale & Torre Grossa

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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.

San Gimignano Palazzo Comunale

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.

Musei Civici San Gimignano

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,

Maesta at Palazzo Comunale San Gimignano

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.

View of Piazza della Cisterna

The bird’s eye view of the surrounding countryside

View of San Gimignano

and the rows of tiled rooftops is spectacular.

San Gimignano Torre Grossa stairs

Access to the top is via a wide metal stairway with landings, rather than a circular stone stairwell.

Torre Grossa Ship's Ladder

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.

San Gimignano Palazzo Comunale Courtyard


The final part of the tour is a visit to the palace courtyard, the walls of which are decorated with colorful medieval frescoes.  There are the coats of arms of the various town mayors, as well as a 16th century fresco by Il Sodoma, a painter of the High Renaissance Sienese School.  In the courtyard, you’ll also see the original bell (ca. 1328) from the Torre Grossa and the old water well.

Ticket Information

Regular Admission = 5€, includes Palazzo Comunale + Pinacoteca + Torre Grossa

Combo ticket  = 7.50€, includes all Civic Museums (Palazzo Comunale + Pinacoteca + Torre Grossa + Archeological Museum + Herbarium of Santa Fina + Modern and Contemporary Art Gallery + Ornithological Musem)

Tickets are available at the entrance to the Palazzo (at the top of the steps near the base of the tower).

Travel tips:

Access to the Torre Grossa may be restricted during poor weather conditions.

Access to the courtyard is free; entrance is through the archway below the tower.

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