Its famous skyline, with its medieval towers visible from more than 10 miles away, is probably as famous in Italy as is Manhattans elsewhere in the world. Little wonder many visitors are bowled over by the allure of owning a slice of San Gimignano real estate in Tuscany.
San Gimignano is possibly the most perfectly preserved of Tuscanys numerous hilltowns and undoubtedly the most popular with tourists, who come here on day trips from all over the region and further afield in Italy. As proof of how much of its Middle-Ages charm has remained intact, parts of it, in particular passing through the Porta San Giovanni gate and walking along Via San Giovanni, could almost have come straight from the pages of a Tolkien novel.
If you're searching for Italy real estate in San Gimignano, you will find that property here remains affordable and also offers excellent rental returns.
San Gimignano, home to 7,000 inhabitants, stands some 1,113ft above sea level. Strolling along its 13th century walls offers a superb view of the surrounding countryside and Cecina Valley. But the heart of the town lies at the top of Via San Giovanni, where Piazza del Duomo meets Piazza della Cisterna. The first square is lined by the citys civic palace and main church while the second has as its centre an early 13th century artesian well.
Overlooking both are the towering medieval buildings that have made this the City of the Beautiful Towers. The first of the towers were built in the 13th century as lookout posts against rival local clans as much as to ward off external enemies.
San Gimignano soon became a thriving commercial hub, based on the craft of textiles and hosting passing pilgrims. But several successive visits of the Black Death (in the middle of the 14th, 15th and 17th centuries) crippled the economy and reduced it to a provincial backwater.
By the time tourists began to flock here in the 18th century, waiting for them was a wonderfully preserved medieval centre of crumbling towers. At one stage there were believed to number up to 76 but today the official count is 14.
San Gimignano is also handily placed for the historic towns of Volterra, 35 minutes away, and Siena, 50 minutes away.