The museum complex, modified by a series of restructurings from the 17th to the 19th century, was finally renovated in the 1980s and 1990s. A group of carefully designed spaces for exhibits was created, including the Archaeological Museum, the Spezieria di Santa Fina, and the Raffaele De Grada Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art.
The Archaeological Museum houses noteworthy artifacts dating back to San Gimignano’s earliest history, from the Archaic Etrsucan Period through to the 18th century. Exhibitions are divided into two sections: one is dedicated to Etruscan and Roman art, with artifacts from settlements and necropolises unearthed in the local territory (such as Pugiano, Cellole, and La Ripa) from the the 7th century B.C. to the 1st century A.D.; the other section displays the products of artisans in crafts such as glasswork and ceramics, which thrived in the city from the Middle Ages on.
The Spezieria di Santa Fina, annexed in 1253 to the Hospital of the same name founded in the mid-1200s, offers an ample collection of equipment and furnishings from the city’s ancient health institutions. The exhibition recreates the original work and herbal storage stations of the pharmacy, one of the oldest in Tuscany, divided into the “cucina” (kitchen) where medicines were prepared, and the “bottega” (shop) where the products were sold. The remedies were kept in ceramic and glass containers of the highest quality. Such vessels dating from the 15th to the 18th century are still on display, complete with their medicinal herbs. Visitors follow the history of the drugs, or better yet, the “medicaments”, and learn about healing activities traditionally carried out in the spezieria, the old apothecary. Many ancient tinctures are exhibited, such as scorpion oil, along with ingredients used in preparing medicine, including mandragora and precious stones.
The Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art is named after Raffaele De Grada (1885 – 1957), a noted Milanese painter who, after travelling throughout Europe, chose to make San Gimignano his home. The museum is located in the ancient Monastery of Santa Chiara. Raffaele de Grada began to frequent the town in the Valdelsa in 1915 after marrying Magda Ceccarella, a native of San Gimignano. On display in the rooms of the museum are many works that are noteworthy not only because of their artistic value but also because of the profound bond that grew up between the artist and the town. Opening in 2002 under the curatorship of Enrico Crispolti, the permanent collection brings together works of art from 19th-century Tuscany and from the 20th century. Visitors may explore two monographic rooms that are dedicated to Niccolò Cannicci and to Raffaele De Grada after viewing the impressive surreal canvasses by Giannetto Fieschi. The museum continues with works that were added to the collection starting in the 1970s thanks to the Premio De Grada (an award won by such notables as Guttuso, Sassu and Vacchi), and moves on to the exposition called Grande Adesione—Great Adhesion (1985), curated byAndrea Del Guercio and dedicated to abstract art and design, and to new approaches to painting which, thanks to later initiatives, have enriched the gallery with donations since the beginning of the 2000s.
The recent bequest of the Pacchiani Collection has enriched the gallery with Italian paintings from the 1930s and 1980s, created by such celebrated artists as Casorati, Campigli, Carrà, De Chirico, Sironi, Soffici, Mafai, Morlotti and Adami. The gallery also serves as the most important exhibition space in the city, for it is here that frequent temporary shows are held to exhibit 19th-century, 20th-century and contemporary art.
Urna con coppia di sposi (urn with a married couple), Archaeological Museum (3rd-2nd century, B.C.): two halfway-reclining spouses hug each other, as shown on the lid of the urn containing their ashes… a union that goes far beyond the limits of space and time.
Glass vessels containing ancient medicaments, Spezieria di Santa Fina: mother of pearl, dragon’s blood (red resin extracted from several Central American plants), viper’s flesh (the meat of female vipers, boiled in water and seasoned) and fragments of the famous mandragora which, according to legend, grew at the foot of the gallows.
The “cucina” (kitchen) of the Spezieria di Santa Fina: where one may enjoy the fragrances within the reconstructed laboratory where remedies were prepared.
Cavalli (Horses), Raffaele de Grada (1921): inspired by the 14th-century fresco cycle at the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano, the painting demonstrates the deep relationship that existed between the arist and the Tuscan city.
Museo Archeologico – Spezieria Santa Fina – Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea “Raffele De Grada”
Via Folgòre, 11 – 53037 San Gimignano
Call Center: 0577 286300
The Archaeological Museum, the Spezieria di Santa Fina and Raffaele De Grada Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art are temporarily closed
a single ticket, valid for two days, to access all the museums
regular: € 9,00
reduced: € 7,00
children under 6 years
San Gimignano, with its famous, storybook-like towered skyline, has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1990, and it is must-see for visitors eager to discover the wonders of the surrounding countryside in the province of Siena. Founded during the Etruscan Period, growing as an Etruscan and then Roman settlement, San Gimignano became part of the fiefdom of the Bishops of Volterra. It won its freedom during the 1200s before coming under the rule of Florence a century later. The city is built on the ancient layout crossed by the route of the Via Francigena in a north-south direction (from Porta San Matteo to Porta San Giovanni). At the highest point of the hill are the two main piazzas, which have always served as the centre of activity in the city and have for centuries now been admired by visitors from around the world. There is the Piazza della Cisterna, and the Piazza del Duomo, lined with impressive buildings and with the highest tower-houses in the city: the Rognosa, which reaches up 52 metres beside the Palazzo del Podestà, and the Torre Grossa, the symbol of the city’s might. Winding among the tall towers and magnificent alleyways that unfailingly provide unexpected and unforgettable views, a walk through the town is never complete unless it includes a visit to the Rocca di Montestaffoli, the Church of Sant’Agostino and the splendid Cathedral.