June 10, 2014

0189, 1097 ITALY (Tuscany) - Historic Centre of San Gimignano (UNESCO WHS)

Posted on 29.04.2012, 10.06.2014
In the 8th century in Europe was born a new type of city, different from the one in the Roman Empire: the burg. The term burgus (which originally indicated a castle) was first mentioned around the year 700 and it generalizes since 816. In texts dating from 10th and 11th centuries, the commercial burg appears with the designation of portus. The term bourgeois - burgensis - inhabitant of a burg, appears in the year 1000. The new type of city is organized around a central plaza, intended merchant operations, because its majority population was composed of specialized craftsmen and various merchants, with their families, aids and servants. When the burgs gained momentum, the nobles built on their turn massive houses of stone, with several floors and huge towers, of 20, 30, 40 and even 60m (Torre Azzoguidi in Bologna). A famous example is the town of San Gimignano in Tuscany, situated in the Val d'Elsa, 56 km south of Florence, and called "the city with 100 towers". Actually the families, enriched with the commerce, ordered to be built 72 towers (as foresee the law, none higher than the Commune tower, called Rognosa).

Founded in the 3rd century BC by the Etruscans, the town was first mentioned in the 10th century, when it adopted the name of Saint Geminianus (the bishop of Modena who had defended it from Attila's Huns), and during the 12th century became a city-republic, known as San Gimignano delle Belle Torri. In the Middle Ages it was a stopping point for pilgrims on their way to Rome and the Vatican, being sits on Via Francigena, which linked Rome and Canterbury. The city flourished until 1348, when the Black Death compelled it to submit to Florence. In San Gimignano is the major shrine of Saint Fina (known also as Serafina), and the house where he lived. In 1300, the town hosted Dante Alighieri in his role of ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany. Also San Gimignano is the birthplace of Folgore da San Gimignano (poet, 1270-1332).

Unlike other cities, such as Bologna or Florence, where most of the towers have been brought down due to wars, catastrophes, or urban renewal, San Gimignano has managed to conserve fourteen towers of varying height which have become its international symbol. The Communal Palace, once seat of the podestà, is now home of the town gallery, with works by many Italian painters. The heart of the town contains the four squares, the Piazza della Cisterna, the Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square) where the Collegiata is located, the Piazza Pecori and the Piazza delle Erbe. For an imaginary walk through this real Manhattan of the Middle Ages you can access this site. How rightly said Marius, the town also is known for the white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano.

About the stamps
On both postcards are stamps belonging to a series of definitive stamps, about which I wrote here.

San Gimignano - Wikipedia

sender 1: Marius Vasilescu
sent from Florence (Tuscany / Italy), on 19.04.2012
photo: Fontanelli
sender 2: Ana
sent from Florence (Tuscany / Italy), on 03.06.2014
photo: Fontanelli


  1. It's already on my to visit list, your post confirms I really should go there some time in the near future.

  2. Yes, seems a very interesting little town.