San Gimignano is a real attraction not to be missed on a trip to Tuscany. It’s known as the “Medieval Manhattan” or as “The City of Towers”. A visit takes you back in time drifting through the quaint cobbled alleyways, admiring the historic sights and enjoying the unique views from the city’s towers.
You can of course also taste the delicious wines of the Chianti region. Not only the historic centre is wonderful, the surroundings of San Gimignano with the countless wineries and excursion destinations are also worth a visit!
The history of this city dates back to 300 BC. At that time San Gimignano was already inhabited by the Etruscans. The Middle Ages, when the famous towers of San Gimignano were built, was the heyday of this region. There were once 72 of these medieval patrician family homes. Today, 15 of them can still be admired and some of these towers can even be climbed.
Among the main attractions of the historic centre are the high towers, but one of the most important monuments of San Gimignano is the Piazza della Cisterna. It owes its name to the underground cisterns that were built as early as 1287. Particularly beautiful here are the historic old town houses, which today are cosy cafés, ice cream parlours and small shops. Probably one of the most popular photo spots of this triangular square is the beautiful medieval stone fountain.
Another beautiful attraction is Piazza del Duomo, which is located right next to the famous Piazza della Cisterna. Around Piazza del Duomo there are many other interesting attractions such as the Torre Grossa, the tallest tower in the city, the Town Hall and the Collegiata Santa Maria Assunta, the Cathedral of San Gimignano. This church is famous for the amazing paintings, the many frescoes and pictures inside. Works by artists such as Taddeo di Bartolo, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Lippo Memmi decorate this church and make it a must-see for all art lovers.
Back to the towers. The most important one is the Torre Grossa. If you can climb the 54 meters high tower (220 steps), you are rewarded with one of the best viewpoints in the city.
The pedestrian centre of San Gimignano is not too big and can therefore be explored comfortably on foot. Surrounded by a well-preserved wall, five gates provide access to the historic centre.
In San Gimignano you can find one of the best gelaterias in Italy: the award-winning Gelateria Dondoli on the main square, Piazza della Cisterna, awarded several times as “Best ice cream in the world”. In addition to the typical varieties why not trying some unusual flavours, such as walnuts and gorgonzola, raspberries and rosemary or cappuccino and rum. The queue is usually long, but it’s worth the wait!
Culture lovers will be in their element in the numerous museums of San Gimignano. The Civic Museum is definitely worth a visit. It is located directly below the Torre Grossa and contains artwork from the Middle Ages from the 13th to the 15th century. Also worth seeing is the facade of the staircase, which was used to announce new laws. In the upper part of the museum there is a picture gallery, which exhibits works from the Sienese and Florentine schools.
A real gem for San Gimignano is a visit to the Campatelli Museum. Here you can see the luxurious living rooms of the last Campatelli family and admire beautiful 19th century furniture and paintings. The tower itself is from the 12th century and is about 28 meters high. Although it is no longer possible to climb it, the museum offers a view inside this medieval tower.
In San Gimignano there are numerous churches and monasteries. A small hidden jewel is the church of San Lorenzo al Ponte, built in 1240. The interior is particularly interesting.
Just 30 kilometers from San Gimignano is the picturesque medieval town of Volterra, another attraction of Tuscany. We also recommend a trip to Colle di Val d’Elsa (28 km), where the “Sentierelsa – Sentiero” along the cobalt blue river is not to be missed.
From San Gimignano you can explore the famous city of Siena. Along the way, don’t miss the town of Monteriggioni! The famous city of Florence is also not far away and can be visited on a day trip.