San Gimignano, the origin of its name

San GemignanoWith today’s article we try to answer one of the most popular questions about the history of San Gimignano: where it comes from the name of this city? Who was the saint who has given it the name with which everyone knows it?

Let’s start from the beginning, since the origin of the city is pretty ancient to the third century BC A very important date in its history is the 63 BC when it is said that the Roman brothers Muzio and Silvio took refuge in Val d’Elsa because they had taken part in the conspiracy of Catiline. Here the two noblemen built two castles to which they gave the name of Mucchio and Silva. It was the latter the first name of what would become the future city of San Gimignano.

The first mention of the city in a historical text has to be traced to 929 but we have to get up to 990 so that the city is starting to have a quite importance. Its name in fact begins to enter the collective imagination thanks to Sigerico, Archbishop of Canterbury, who made a long pilgrimage route to Rome, the holy city.

Sigerico walked across the Via Francigena and one of its stages was precisely San Gimignano, which the archbishop reported as Sce Gemiane, name very similar to that with which we are now used to recognizing the Tuscan village.

This is what tells us the story. But from where the city got its name? Who is San Gimignano that everybody talks about?

The tradition, now universally accepted, is that the name of the old Tuscan derives from that of a saint, bishop of the city of Modena, San Gimignano for the note, which played a vital role in the history of this city.san-geminiano-santo-patrono

It was 452 when Attila the Hun, came to Italy to expand their lands. Came from occupied area today by the Veneto, was aimed southward promising to destroy everything you would find in its path. Came in Modena threatened to destroy the city but the Holy sent down the fog to protect Modena and the surrounding lands; Attila did not see the profiles of the town and went on ahead.

A few years after the barbarian invasions did not stop and was Totila to enter Italy, king of the Ostrogoths. The king and his army pushed up to the center of the peninsula reaching the gates of San Gimignano. The city seemed doomed to its fate of being assaulted by barbarian troops. It was the intervention of the saint who appeared on the city walls and put to flight the invaders to save the city from the capitulation.

To thank the Saint who had protected them and ingratiate himself with his favors for the future, that night the inhabitants decided to change the name of the city in San Gimignano, a name which has remained to the present day and with which the city is now universally recognized.

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