San Gimignano - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to San Gimignano

San Gimignano

The towers of this medieval village peer wilfully onto the stretch of cypress and olive trees below. San Gimignano has been dubbed 'medieval Manhattan', however the skyline of towers numbers only 14 of the original 72. Built as status symbols and defensive outposts the towers played a significant role in the internecine feuds that eventually led to the town's downfall.

Prior to its eventual decline into a sleepy backwater, San Gimignano prospered through its position along the main pilgrim route from Northern Europe to Rome. Today however, it is better known for its tourism, with wine production and rich artwork attracting many people to San Gimignano on holiday.

The Piazza del Duomo is a good starting point from which to explore the historical buildings of the town. In close proximity to the square is the Collegiata church, dating to the 11th century and adorned with frescoes including The Creation, by Bartolo di Fredi. Via San Giovanni is a good area to navigate for local merchandise.

Information & Facts

The official language of Italy is Italian. English is understood in the larger cities but not in the more remote parts of the country.

The Euro (EUR) is the official currency, which is divided into 100 cents. Those arriving in Italy with foreign currency can obtain Euros through any bank, ATM or bureaux de change. ATMs are widespread. Travellers cheques can be exchanged with ease in the large cities, not so in the smaller towns. Credit cards are accepted in upmarket establishments and shops around the cities. Banks are closed on weekends, but tend to have better rates than casas de cambios.

The distinctive skyline of the charming medieval village of San Gimignano is redolent of a modern cityscape with its many towers, hence its nickname the 'medieval Manhattan'.

Only 14 of the original 72 towers remain, however, which is unsurprising as their dual role as status symbols and defensive structures saw them caught in the middle of the many feuds and battles that eventually caused the town's downfall. Nevertheless, these 14 towers are among the best-preserved in Italy, and are the envy of Florence and Bologna whose towers have long since been destroyed. San Gimignano enjoyed an ideal position on the main pilgrimage route connecting Northern Europe and Rome and prospered during the Middle Ages. In modern times, its fortune stems from tourism and wine production.

The ideal starting-point for a visit to San Gimignano is the Piazza del Duomo, which is the centre of the town and framed by historical buildings. Nearby is the Collegiata, a church dating from the 11th Century and famed for its frescoes, which include The Creationby Bartolo di Fredi. For shopping and souvenirs, head to Via San Giovanni.

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