San Gimignano website, city of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage of UNESCO

Art & Culture > Town Museums > Town hall, Picture Gallery and Great Tower

Musei Civici (Town Museums)

Town hall, Picture Gallery and Great Tower - Visit San Gimignano Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall) stands on the central Piazza del Duomo. Inside there is the famous room "Sala di Dante" that is decorated with important collections of courtly frescoes and the Picture Gallery with its works dating back to the 13th and 17th centuries. From Palazzo Comunale you can also go up to the top of the Torre Grossa, San Gimignano's highest tower from where an amazing view will take your breath away.
It is also possible to climb the Torre Grossa. From its top you will enjoy the view of the town and its surrounding countryside, including the whole Valdelsa region to the mountains of the area of Pistoia and to the Apuan Alps.

Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), one of the most important buildings in San Gimignano, stands on the southern side of Piazza del Duomo. It was built on the remains of a previous building between 1289 and 1298. Further enlargements, dating back to the 14th and the 15th centuries, defined the space of the inner courtyard, which was afterwards decorated with frescoes representing the coat of arms of important public personages of the town.
The main building was used either as the dwelling-place of the Podestą, who was always a foreigner for reasons of impartiality, or as the meeting place of the Public Council. The two upper floors are the "historical" seat of the Town Museums, first founded in 1853. The tour includes a visit to Palazzo Comunale, one of the most ancient public buildings in Tuscany, decorated with some famous collections of frescoes about love (see the fresco by Memmo di Filippuccio in Camera del Podestą) or about hunting and tournaments, such as the fresco attributed to Azzo di Masetto, and eventually the large Maestą by Lippo Memmi in Sala di Dante (the ancient Council Hall).
The visit continues with the Pinacoteca (Picture Gallery) where you can follow the fundamental moments of the artistic history of San Gimignano: from the Florentine artists - Coppo di Marcovaldo and Azzo di Masetto - and the Sienese artist Rinaldo, all working in the second half of the 13t" century, to the great Sienese season of the second half of the 14th century (Memmo di Filippuccio, Lippo Memmi, Niccolo di Ser Sozzo); from the alternating presence of both Sienese and Florentine painters between late 14th and early 15th century, to the final prominence of the Fiorentine ones (Filippino Lippi, Benozzo Gozzoli) who contributed to the Renaissance renewal of San Gimignano. The masterpiece of this period is the great altar-piece painted by Pinturicchio in 1511. Outside the Museum, in the Courtyard, there are frescoes of coat of arms of the podestą and the surprising fresco of Sodoma (first years of the century) and the recently restored ancient bell of the year 1328.

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