History of San Gimignano
San Gimignano developed on the site of a small Etruscan settlement and grew considerably during the Middle Ages thanks to the Via Francigena, which runs through the town. In the thirteenth century San Gimignano became an important halt for pilgrims and merchants travelling throughout Europe. In this period the town knew its highest splendour, and there was a remarkable flowering of works of art adorning churches, palaces, and monasteries. Its robust economy, based on the commerce of local fine-quality products such as saffron and wine, benefit the development of aristocratic families who boasted their political power by building the famous towers: of the original 72 towers in the fourteenth century, only 14 remain today.