San Gimignano in the Italian Tuscan Hills, is known as the city of towers. Something that should not surprise us from a city that has been recognized by UNESCO for being a medieval city.
It is precisely during the medieval era that palaces and castles in the form of a “tower house” are developed in many parts of Europe. This type of construction was very common during the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. It is said that in San Gimignano there were at some time in its ancient history, more than 70 towers. Today there are only 13 Torres – Castles, in addition to the Duomo Bell Tower.
Indeed, the preferred model of medieval residence was the tower. The size of the tower was indicative of the economic power or social importance of a family. The most important towers that still exist in San Gimignano are the Rognossa Tower, Grossa and those of the Salvucci family.
The Rognossa Tower dates from 1200 and is 52 meters high. He was known by different names, among these are: the Torre del Podestà, because it rises over the old Podesta Palace; the Torre dell’Orologio, for having used its bell tower to mark the hours serving as a clock. In addition, the Rognossa Tower was used as a prison.
The Grossa Tower is currently the tallest tower in San Gimignano with a height of 54 meters. Its construction dates from 1310 and from the top you can see spectacular views of Tuscany.
The “Torri dei Salvucci”, were really twin towers built by the most important family in the city, the Salvucci’s. These towers exceeded the limit of 51 meters established by the City Council. By reducing its size, one was left with more height than the other. Thus, the distinction of Salvucci the eldest and Salvucci the youngest is born. Hidden and in the shadow of the Salvucci Towers, is the Peltini Tower.
Going up the Via San Giovanni and just before going through the Arco dei Becci, the Torre dei Becci rises. Other towers that still exist include; Campanile della Collegiata, Torri degli Ardinghelli, Torre Chigi and Torre del Diavolo among many others.
When visiting San Gimignano and knowing the history of its medieval towers, one is surprised by all those structures that have been lost over time. Maybe you could think of a Manhattan City in New York, it is the best comparison in modern times.