San Gimignano, Italy

Duomo's Cloister (Collegiata)

To the right of the Collegiata, the Piazza Pecori opens up as a small peaceful piazza connected to the Piazza del Duomo.

To find it, one only need pass by the Torre Grossa and proceed through the Arch of San Giovanni (so called because there is a statue of the saint at the top that was first on the Porta Alle Fonti, one of the city gates).

Piazza Pecori is truly charming. Completely paved in brick, it resembles the courtyard of a private residence. It is truly a peaceful oasis, due also to the fact that cars are not allowed.

The side of the piazza that borders the Cathedral opens to the Loggia del Battistero, a small Romantic style courtyard. In 1632 it was closed and used as an oratory, then as a Baptistery (from which it received its name). For this reason, a baptismal fountain was moved here in 1379. The fountain was sculpted by Giovanni di Cecco with a scene of the Baptism of Jesus with two lambs.

The arches of the cloister were reopened relatively recently, restoring the piazza to what must have been its original appearance, with the loggia opening on one side.

Through the columns at the back of the cloister can be glimpsed an amazing Annunciation by Sebastiano Mainardi, a disciple of Ghirlandaio. Immediately below the fresco is the baptismal fountain.

On the cloister vault there is a fragment of decoration depicting a Prophet, from the artist who created the stories of the New Testament inside the Collegiata.

The piazza is enclosed by arches and by ancient palazzos that house the Museo d'Arte Sacra and the Museo Archeologico.

There is an amazing view of the towers from the cloister, making this enclosed and peaceful space even more charming.