San Gimignano, Italy

Church of San Francesco

The somewhat recessed, magnificent white façade of the Chiesa di San Francesco is encountered along the Via di San Giovanni, one of the main axes of San Gimignano along the Via Francigena.

The Ospedale dei Cavalieri di Malta, a rich order of soldier monks who had the task of defending the Holy Sepulchre, has stood in this place since the early decades of the 13th century. Originally the structure was dedicated to Saint John and served also as a shelter for pilgrims and travellers along the Via Francigena.

It was transformed into a place of worship dedicated to Saint Francis in 1553, when Franciscan monks moved here after their convent outside of the San Giovanni Gate had been destroyed.

The 13th century travertine façade, in a Pisa-Romanesque style, has fine blind arches over columns. The Croce dei Cavalieri di Malta is also visible over the door.