San Gimignano – the Town Hall – Torre Grossa

Vista dalla Torre Grossa

The town hall was built in the last decade of the thirteenth century; the first meeting of the council was held on the 23rd December 1288. Before then, the Podestà’s council had no fixed meeting place and either met in the choir of the parish church or in Palazzo dei Paltroncini in Piazza della Cisterna. The so-called Palazzo Antico del Podestà, located in Piazza del Duomo, opposite the Collegiate church, instead, belonged to the Mantellini family that rented it out as the residence of the Podestà; it was purchased by the town council in 1320 in order to use it as accommodation for the guests of the council. The palace was then turned into a theater and the 51 meter adjoining tower, called La Rognosa, formerly a prison, was given a clock in 1407.

Ten years after the actual town hall in Piazza del Duomo, adjoining the Collegiate church, was built, it was given a tower, Torre Grossa, about 54 meters high, which was completed in 1311. The building was enlarged in 1323. The palace, erroneously attributed to Arnolfo Di Cambio, has a four storey structure with windows featuring lowered arches; the façade once featured the Marzocco, the coat-of-arms of the city of Florence, with a lying lion holding a shield in its right-hand paw with the fleur-de-lis, a symbol of the submission of San Gimignano to the Florence.

To the right of the palace is a gallery called Arringo, where the Podestà used to swear his loyalty to the people, while the large portico on the left was used for public ceremonies. The actual battlements of the palace are not original but were added in 1881. The building currently houses the Town Museum featuring paintings of the Sienese and Florentine schools dating back to the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth centuries; the most famous painters whose works are displayed here are Niccolò Tegliacci, Taddeo di Bartolo, Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Michelino, Pinturicchio and Filippo Lippi. On the walls of the building there are also frescoes depicting scenes of family life by Memmo di Filippuccio and a “Majesty” by Lippo Memmi. In 1323, the palace was enlarged and the courtyard was also built; the well in the center, dating back to 1361, was built by Podestà Iacopo di Carroccio Alberti; the courtyard is frescoed with scenes representing the administration of justice or religious subjects such as the Madonna with Child with St. Gimignano and St Gregorio; the work dates back to the fourteenth century and is attributed by some to Taddeo di Bartolo.

Opening times:
November to February: daily from 10 am – 5.30 pm, except December 24 (h. 10 am -1.30 pm) and January 1 (h. 12,30 am – 5.30 pm).
March to October: daily h. 9.30 am to 7 pm.
Closed on January 31.

Price: € 5.00

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