The Historic Centre of San Gimignano sits on a height of land, dominating the surrounding landscape. During the Middle Ages, its location in Val dโ€™Elsa, 56 km south of Florence, provided an important relay point for pilgrims travelling to or from Rome on the Via Francigena. The town became independent in 1199 and between the 11th and the 13th century the noble families and upper middle-class merchants who controlled the free town built many fortified tower houses (probably 72) as symbols of their wealth and power. The town grew around two principal squares: the triangular Piazza della Cisterna, ornamented with a lovely central well, and the Piazza Duomo,
dating from the late 13th century with its more intricate layout containing the majority of public and private monuments.

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