Designated a World Heritage site by UNESCO, the enchanting hill town of San Gimignano is one of the best preserved medieval sites in Europe. During the Middle Ages, it prospered as a major stop on the pilgrimage route to Rome. The "City of Beautiful Towers," where local merchants built impressive campanili (towers) as symbols of their wealth and prestige, became one of the richest communities in Tuscany. Today, 14 of the original towers line the Piazza della Cisterna (the town's central square), and the city continues to thrive as a center of the local wine trade. The city's impressive highlights include Piazza del Duomo (Cathedral Square), the remarkable 166-foot-high tower of the Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà, built in 1239; the stately Palazzo del Popolo (Town Hall), where city business has been conducted since the 13 th century; and the Museo Civico (Civic Museum), a small but remarkable museum featuring an exquisite collection of Renaissance frescoes by Memmo di Filippuccio and Lippo Memmi.
The Palazzo Comunale of San Gimignano is in the Piazza del Duomo close to the Collegiata church. Also known as the Palazzo del Popolo, the palazzo has been the seat of civic power in the comune since the 13th century. The building contains a museum and gallery with works of the Florentine and Sienese schools of art - including works by Coppo di Marcovaldo, Lippo Memmi, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Il Sodoma and Pinturicchio.
The palazzo dates from the late 13th century, and was built on the ruins of an existing building between 1289 and 1298. Further expanded in the 14th century, the facade is characterised by arched windows, with the lower half of the frontage built with stone, and the upper part in brick.
On the ground floor is a courtyard, which was built in 1323 and is decorated with the coats of arms of those who have held public office in the municipality. The main civic offices of the town council are now located on this ground floor.
On the first floor is a stepped gallery from which dignitaries would address the gathered crowd in the square. The battlements date from a restoration of the nineteenth century, and the structure is capped by the "Torre Grossa” (great tower). This tower was completed in 1300 and (at 54 meters) is the highest tower in the walled town.
The upper stories of the palazzo house the Sala del Consiglio, and (since 1852) the civic museum and gallery.
The "Sala del Consiglio" is a large reception hall which was used as the council chamber. It is commonly known as the "Sala di Dante" and is named for the noted poet Dante Alighieri who visited San Gimignano in 1300 as an ambassador of the Florentine Republic.
Lippo Memmi's Maestà in the Sala di Dante
The room is decorated with a Maestà by Lippo Memmi. Commissioned in 1317 by Nello de Mino Tolomei (then podestà of San Gimignano), the fresco is believed to have been inspired by Simone Martini's Maestà from the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. The fresco shows Mary seated on a throne surrounded by adoring saints and angels (including patron Nello de Mino Tolomei).
Just off the great hall is a meeting room which was originally used for private meetings.
The gallery itself is on the second floor and contains works by Coppo di Marcovaldo, Lippo Memmi, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Il Sodoma and Pinturicchio.
The first room is called "The Trinity", from the work it contains by Pier Francesco Fiorentino dated to 1497. It also houses a "Madonna and Child with Saints" by Leonardo da Pistoia and a "Pietà" by Bastiano Mainardi.
Other rooms contain a Maestà from the late thirteenth century, altar decorations by Memmo di Filippuccio, a "Madonna and Child" by Vincenzo Tamagni (1528), several Gothic altarpieces (including one showing scenes from the life of Saint Gimignano), a "Madonna with Saints Gregory and Benedict" by Pinturicchio, and two medieval crucifixes of the Florentine school.
The Podestà apartments (Camera del Podestà) are frescoed with matrimonial scenes of a couple taking a bath and going to bed. (An unusual work by Memmo di Filippuccio dated to the early fourteenth century.)
References Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Palazzo Comunale (San Gimignano)
 Official website of Comune di San Gimignano - About the Palazzo Comunale, Pinacoteca, and Torre Grossa (Italian)
 Lonely Planet - San Gimignano sights - Palazzo Comunale
 Travelingo guide - Museo Civico and the Torre Grossa
 SanGimignano.com - Comune tourism site - People's Palace
 SanGimignano.com - Comune tourism site - History
 Art in Renaissance Italy By John T. Paoletti, Gary M. Radke