San Gimignano, Italy


Today the Piazza Duomo is still the heart of San Gimignano, just as it was the centre of political and religious life in the Middle Ages. It marks the intersection between the Via Francigena (running north to south) and the old Pisa-Siena Road (running east to west).

It is a brick, trapezoid-shaped space with a slight slope, adding to the wonder of those who upon entering find themselves all of a sudden at the centre of the Middle Ages. Three important medieval buildings face one another here: On the north side, projecting up into the sky, are the Torri Gemelle dei Salvucci. On the opposite side is the Palazzo Nuovo del Potestà with the Loggia del Comune. Beside it is the massive Torre Grossa.

The most imposing building is the Collegiata; it is at the centre, overpowering the piazza with its bulk as it sits on high atop a stairway. Exactly opposite is the Palazzo Vecchio del Potestà with the Torre Rognosa and the Torre Chigi alongside.

The Collegiata, also know as the Duomo, gives its name to the piazza and has been there since the 11th century. In the first half of the 13th century, during the period of greatest economic prosperity, the piazza assumed the appearance it still has today. The main public buildings were built here, and the façade of the Duomo was rotated to face the Palazzo Vecchio del Potestà.