Facts & History
of San Gimignano
for Cruisers to Livorno

Brief history and demographics of San Gimignano for cruise visitors to Livorno port: from 63 BC to the Golden Age, the Plague, the Province and the City.

Updated: May 21, 2023

No one is quite sure how or why San Gimignano was founded, but legend has it that it was the work of two Roman brothers, Muzio and Silvio.

Brief History

These two brothers supposedly built two castles in 63 BC, one of which grew into a village called Silvia. In the 10th century AD, the villagers changed the name to San Gimignano in honor of a bishop who had saved them from a barbarian raid.

Photo of San Gimignano Walls

Sam Gimignano - Walled Town

Photo: Sailko CC-By-SA

The first record of San Gimignano was in 929 AD when it was given by King Ugo di Povenza to the Bishop of Volterra. Although it was just a tiny village at the time, it soon became an essential stop on the medieval pilgrimage route between Lucca and Siena.

As the town’s wealth grew, so did the political yearnings of its local lords. Tensions were already rising by the 1200s when war broke out between Florence and Siena. San Gimignano chose to align with Florence, which won the war.

Due to its advantageous alliance with Florence, the city entered a period of peace and prosperity, mostly under Florentine rule, that lasted until the early 1300s.

During this golden time, the wealthy residents of San Gimignano built huge towers all over the city. Between 70 and 76 towers were built as the feuding families attempted to construct the highest tower in the city.

Photo of San Gimignano miniature as it looked in 1300

San Gimignano miniature as it looked in 1300

Photo Public Domain

Unfortunately, San Gimignano’s golden days ended as they started in the 1300s when the plague swept the city first in 1348 and then in 1464 and 1631. Without much time to recover in between waves of sickness, the city’s population steadily decreased and economic stagnation occurred. The city did not begin to recover until the 1700s.


The Province

San Gimignano belongs to the province of Siena, one of the 10 provinces of Tuscany. It is located on the border with the province of Pisa.

The City


138.6 km²
(52.75 sq miles)


Approximately 7,700 residents

Population Density:

56 / sq-km
(150/ sq miles)

Patron Saints:

St. Geminianus and Saint Fina
Saint day: 31 January


Wikipedia, Comune di San Gimignano

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