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The history of San Gimignano dates back to the 3rd century when it was established by the Etruscans. It was named after the bishop Saint Geminianus, bishop of Modena, who is thought to have saved the town from the Huns by shrouding it in fog. Located on the Via Francigena, the town became a resting place for pilgrims en route to the Vatican and Rome during medieval times. This, along with agricultural commerce, helped San Gimignano grow and thrive. At the end of the 12th century San Gimignano declared its independence from the bishops of Volterra. A struggle between the Guelph and Ghibelline factions brought conflict to the community; however, the town continues to prosper and accumulate its wealth of art and architecture. In the 1300s, Dante Alighieri was the ambassador of the Guelph league, this was also the period in which the majority of the towers were constructed. San Gimignano continued to grow until the mid-14th century when a plague that decimated the European population caused San Gimignano to surrender to Florence. After that, San Gimignano turned into a quiet town until tourism and art caused it to blossom as a great centre of beauty n the 19th century.