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vebSan Gimignano: Fortress and Town Walls [2]
In 1229 the historical alliance of San Gimignano with Florence became stronger. In these years the city skyline of Saint Gimignano was studded with numerous towers, symbols and testimonies to the fortune of the families that possessed them...

...and still today the city is known throughout the world as 'San Gimignano dalle belle torri' (San Gimignano with the beautiful towers). In the 13th century there 72 towers, but today only have 14 survived.

In the year 1251 San Gimignano was endowed with new town-walls to encompass the new quarters. They comprised the one of Montestaffoli, with the two main gates placed on the road Francigena, San Giovanni and San Matteo, completed in the 1262. The circuit formed from high and thick walls in stone, coming from the nearby quarry of Pecille, with square towers reinforceing some features and with hollow towers at other points. The gates were equipped with breteche and outside the walls the defense was completed by deep ditches. These walls are still today nearly complete with all their gates: S.Giovanni, S.Matteo, 'Delle Fonti', Quercecchio and S.Jacopo.

Some in fighting between the powerful families of the Salvucci and the Ardinghelli destabilized the government. Consequently in the year 1343 San Gimignano fell under the political administration of Florence; in 1348 the Florentines acquired the Poggio della Torre and in the 1353 they took complete control on the city. Immediately a new rocca was constructed, on the hill of Montestaffoli. It was completed in the 1358. In order to make place for the new fortifications theconvent of the Dominican Order was demolished and transferred. The Rocca was erected on the existing town walls using the same stone with an irregular trapezoidal shape. The vertex of the trapeze was endowed with a 'spur' tower and it was the only part of rocca outside the trace of the city walls, while the now destroyed keep and high tower was within the walls faced the town. Two other square towers closed the other two sides. From the one still intact we can admire today a splendid panorama on the city towers.

Other additions and modifications to the fortifications were done until 1470, and the most important ones included the town-walls five circular towers constructed in bricks and equipped with machicolation supported by brackets in stone. At the conclusion of the war with Siena, in the 1555, the duke Cosimo de Medici ordered the dismantling of the Rocca and the other fortified structures of San Gimignano. That work was carried on until 1558. However, San Gimignano has retained its feudal atmosphere and appearance. The city also contains masterpieces of 14th and 15th century Italian art and is in the UNESCO World Heritage List.