Palazzo Comunale, San Gimignano

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Palazzo Comunale
Palazzo Comunale exterior
Alternative namesPalazzo del Popolo
General information
LocationPiazza del Duomo, San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy
Coordinates43°28′04″N 11°02′35″E / 43.467869°N 11.042923°E / 43.467869; 11.042923
Completed13th Century
Height54 meters

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".[1]

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[edit]

Palazzo courtyard

The Palazzo Comunale dates from the late 13th century, and was built on the ruins of an existing building between 1289 and 1298.[2] Further expanded in the 14th century,[3] 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[4] and is decorated with the coats of arms of those who have held public office in the municipality.[2] The main civic offices of the town council are now located on this ground floor.[5]

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,[3] and the structure is capped by the "Torre Grossa” (great tower). This tower was completed in 1300[5] and (at 54 meters) is the highest tower in the walled town.[2]


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.[2] 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.[6]

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.[7] The fresco shows Mary seated on a throne surrounded by adoring saints and angels (including patron Nello de Mino Tolomei).[7]

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, Pinturicchio, Azzo di Masetto, Niccolò di Ser Sozzo; Taddeo di Bartolo, Lorenzo di Niccolò, the so-called Master of 1419, and Benedetto da Maiano.[8]

The first room is called The Trinity, due to a painting on this topic (1497) by Pier Francesco Fiorentino. 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 14th century.)[5]