Palazzo Comunale, San Gimignano
|Alternative names||Palazzo del Popolo|
|Location||Piazza del Duomo, San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy|
The Palazzo Comunale (Italian: Municipal palace), also known as the Palazzo del Popolo (Italian: People's palace) of San Gimignano has been the seat of the civic authority in the comune since the 13th century. It is located on the Piazza del Duomo close to the Collegiate Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The building and Collegiate Church are at the heart of the medieval town, and are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the "Historic Centre of San Gimignano".
The building contains important fresco decorations by Memmo di Filippuccio, Lippo Memmi and others, a museum and a gallery with works of the Florentine and Sienese schools of art - including paintings by Coppo di Marcovaldo, Lippo Memmi, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi, Il Sodoma and Pinturicchio.
History and architecture
The Palazzo Comunale 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.
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 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.)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Palazzo Comunale (San Gimignano).|
- UNESCO: Historic Centre of San Gimignano, (accessed 05-09-2012)
- 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