Piazza della Cisterna
Piazza della Cisterna (Cistern Square) is a piazza in San Gimignano, in the Tuscan region of Italy. It is triangular is shape and has a natural incline to it. Connected to the town’s largest square, Piazza del Duomo through an open passage, this piazza is entirely paved with brick and is surrounded on all sides by houses and towers from the Medieval Era.
In earlier times, the Piazza della Cisterna was the centre of all public performances, tournaments and festivals that were held in the city. It was also the main marketplace of the people. Its design is from the 13th century and it is named after the Cisterna (Water Cistern) that is still present amid the piazza today. The cistern was originally built in the late 13th century and is covered by a octagonal platform, which was later added to it in the early 14th century.
At the southwest corner of the square, it meets l’arco dei Becci (Arc of Becci), which is the gate of the ancient city of San Gimignano. The Torri dei Becci (Tower of Becci) is on the left and the Torri dei Cugnanesi (Tower of Cugnanesi) is on the right side of this arc.
The northern side of the Piazza della Cisterna contains the Palazzo dei Cortesi (Cortesi Palace), the Torre del Diavolo (The Tower of Devil), and the Case dei Cattani (Houses of Cattani); whereas, the western side has a number of towers, such as the Torri Gemelle of the Ardinghelli and the tower of the Palazzo Pellaro (Pellaro Palace).
The Museo Criminale Medievale (Criminal Medieval Museum) is also located within the Piazza della Cisterna and showcases some historic exhibits of how crime was committed and punished in the Medieval times.
Near the well, two palaces, the Palazzo Tortoli and the Palazzo Razzi can be found. The Casa Salvestrini is also located here. It had been a hospital at one point in time but has now been converted into a hotel.
Most of the architecture is Romanesque and Medieval and has been restored in its original form. Tourists can roam around the markets and eat at the shops, cafés and gelaterias (ice-cream shops), lining the piazza. They can also climb various towers to see spectacular views of San Gimignano and the surrounding landscape.
If you wish to eat your meal while watching the hustle and bustle of the square, go to the La Terrazza Restaurant, where you can sit outside and take in the sights of this old city.
San Gimignano is a true treat for people interested in historic architecture and the Piazza della Cisterna definitely deserves a visit if you are staying in, or even just visiting, this Medieval walled city in the midst of Tuscany.