In San Gimignano you can admire the churches of St. Iacopo and St. Peter, the Collegiate of St. Mary of the Assumption with the Chapel of St. Fina, the Cathedral, the Museum of Sacred Art, the Podestà Palazzo and the Pratellesi Palazzo.
In 1199 the city became an autonomous council, freeing itself of the dominion of the bishopric of Volterra. In this era the village suffered internal divisions between Papal-supporting Guelphs and Empire-supporting Ghibellines, who caused a real “civil war” in the territory. Among the numerous diplomats welcomed to the city to resolve the fratricide that was storming Tuscany was Dante Alighieri, present in 1300. The plague in the mid-14th century aggravated the socio-economic crisis in the village which, in 1354, accepted submission to the authority of the Florentine Republic. From that moment San Gimignano became one of the most important centres of the Florentine county, despite its obvious demographic decline. Of the 13,000 inhabitants at the beginning of the 14th century only 3,000 remained at the end of the 15th century.
The degradation of its social make-up and the fall in the number of inhabitants meant that construction did not particularly interfere in the structure of the town centre. In recent times, therefore, the citizens of San Gimignano have realised they owned an authentic, valuable, open-air, artistic heritage. With all of its medieval structure still intact, the council has been recently added to the list of UNESCO-protected heritages.