The Towers of San Gimignano

The Excess Before the Plague

san gimignano sketch
Sketch of San Gimignano :: Image by Depositphotos

Why do tourists go to San Gimignano? It’s an inspiring medieval town. All those towers get photographed, water colored and sketched by artists and wanderers.

Yes, there’s good gelato to be found in San Gimignano. But there’s no need to travel to a town without a railway station just for gelato. You come for those towers. You want to see the Manhattan of Italy.

But, dear traveler, there’s also the landscape around the town. It’s nice as well.

san gimignano landscape
The Landscape Around San Gimignano in Tuscany

And the ferocious cats are worth a risk.

san gimignano cats
The cats of San Gimignano

But there’s this. The eye candy you’ve come to gawk at:

san gimignano towers
The Towers of San Gimignano

Let’s plot out the timeline. Way back when, there was an Etruscan settlement. After, the town grew at a snail’s pace. By 998 San Gimignano was still a village along the Via Francigena. It belonged to the bishop of Volterra, a growing town of more renown during the period.

But pilgrimage changes everything. San Gimignano was a major stop-over on the way to see the great basilicas of Rome. Rich old folks, hoping to get into heaven without having to huff and puff to push their fat camels through the eye of a needle, jettisoned some of their wealth by building facilities to benefit lesser outfitted pilgrims, like hostels, hospices and brothels. The number of folks on the road made it safer for merchants. Society benefited.

Business boomed from all this money and trade and at the same time the rich builders of the towers built taller and taller towers to show how wealthy they had it. Their skinny buildings fit between the walls of the ever-growing city until a law was passed in 1255 that no tower could be built higher than the Torre Rognosa, which was located beside the Palazzo Comunale, City Hall, which happened to be the highest tower of that time. The long arm of the law pretty much stopped the escalation of the height of these penis-square ornamental outposts, and the folks living in their shadows could finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Then came the plague in 1348. The Black Death struck, wiping out half of San Gimignano’s population.

Ok, so call me crazy, but isn’t that about the same time between the period of excess and conspicuous consumption and the coming of COVID? The roaring 20s to the authoritative present? 97 years passed between the end of the tower period and the Black Death. 1929 to 2019. 90 years. Close enough.

So here’s a conspiracy theory (or something) you can pass around and make people like you for your persistence in giving credence to the ramblings of a madman.

Meanwhile, while I’m lucid, here’s another view of the towers. It’s what you planned to see, isn’t it?

san gimignano towers
San Gimignano Towers

Travel Toolbox

Why go to this destination? The Towers of course, and award winning gelato at <a href="http://www.gelateriadondoli.com/home-uk.html">Gelateria Dondoli</a>.
Region map and guide Tuscany
Train Station No. Closest station Poggibonsi where a bus to San Gimignano takes about 40 minutes -- Buy Train Tickets in advance
Lodging Hotel Bel Soggiorno
Guidebooks to destination Tuscany Guides and Cook Books

Best of our travel pictures: James Martin on Picfair
Long Term Traveler Car Leasing: Why Lease a Car on Vacation?

Sketch of San Gimignano provided by Depositphotos

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Bittersweet times in Rural Tuscany

Historic Ship Museum of Pisa

An Art Itinerary In Tuscany

The Towers of San Gimignano originally appeared on WanderingItaly.com , updated: Nov 22, 2022 © .

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