SAN GIMIGNANO – 90 KM FROM MONTECATINI TERME
San Gimignano stands with the profile of its towers on a hill (334 m) dominating the Val d’Elsa. Seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (3rd-2nd century BC) it began its history around the 10th century taking the name of the Holy Bishop of Modena: San Gimignano, who would have saved the village from the barbarian hordes.
It had great development during the Middle Ages thanks to the Via Francigena that crossed it. So much so that San Gimignano had an extraordinary flowering of works of art that adorned churches and convents.
In 1199 it became a free municipality, fought against the Bishops of Volterra and the neighboring municipalities, suffered internal strife, dividing itself into two factions following the Ardinghelli (Guelphs) and the Salvucci (Ghibellines).
On May 8th 1300, it hosted Dante Alighieri, ambassador of the Guelph league in Tuscany. The terrible plague of 1348 and the subsequent depopulation threw San Gimignano into a serious crisis. The town therefore had to submit to Florence.
It emerged from the degradation and abandonment of the following centuries only when the beauty of the city, its cultural importance and the original agricultural identity began to be rediscovered.