San Gimignano rises on a hill (334m high) dominating the Elsa Valley with its towers. Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, San Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes. The town increased in wealth and developed greatly during the Middle Ages thanks to the "Via Francigena" the trading and pilgrim's route that crossed it. Such prosperity lead to the flourishing of works of art to adorn the churches and monasteries. On the 8th May 1300 Dante Alighieri came to San Gimignano as the Ambassador of the Guelph League in Tuscany. In 1348 San Gimignano's population was drastically reduced by the Black Death Plague throwing the city into a serious crisis. In the following centuries San Gimignano overcame its decline and isolation when its beauty and cultural importance were rediscovered.
Monteriggioni is without doubt one of the most classical and best known Italian walled town. Since the Middle Age its fame was so great that also the great poet Dante Alighieri makes sign to his 'round enclosure' in the Divine Comedy. The walls, nearly intact, cover a length of 570 meters and are alternated by 14 towers and two gates. The Senese gate rises at the base of a tower while that toward Florence is opened in the curtain and defended from one of the towers of the fortified perimeter. The town was built by the Senesis in the years 1213-1219 on a hillock at dominion and overlooking of the Via Francigena. The suburb that we can admire our days is essentially authentic. The only changes to its aspect happened in the first years of the 16th century when, trying to conform the fortifications to the development of the new fire weapons, were lowered the towers and accumulated earth at the base of the walls with the purpose to get a bastionated effect.
Colle Val d'Elsa
Spread over three gradients (the Borough, Castle and Plain), Colle di Val d'Elsa is famous today for its production of fine handcrafted crystal, but it is also an important tourist destination. The Borough is entered through the monumental Porta Nova and winds its long and narrow way in a sequence of fine 16th and 17th-century noble houses to the magnificent Palazzo Campana, which marks the entry to the Castle, the oldest part of Colle. Here, the atmosphere suddenly changes: narrow paved lanes, fascinating tower-houses (amongst these stands the one where Amolfo di Cambio was born), steeply sloping streets and flights of steps. Piazza del Duomo is overlooked by the Praetorial Court, the seat of the Archaeological Museum, the Cathedra, the Bishops's Palle, housing the Museum of Sacred Art, and the picturesque Via delle Volte, the most characteristic corner of the town.
We have notice of Staggia and its fortifications since between the 10thand 11th century. From the 13th century Staggia was quickly developed, thanks to its proximity with the Via Francigena. Staggia was involved in the wars of border and in 1372 were carried on new works of strengthening of the castle and the town walls. The walled circuit was again reinforced in 1431 and the castle, to which is still today chained, became the core of this great fortified complex. This interventions were effected with the consultation of the great architect Brunelleschi. The walls of Staggia join the castle on the northern side and are today almost intact, with the exception of two short interruptions.
Besides, you can easily reach: Volterra, Siena, Florence, Arezzo, Cortona, Pisa and the sea, Orvieto, Perugia, Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Monte Oliveto.