San Gimignano Travel Guide:Towers and Top Attractions Tuscany,Italy

Discover San Gimignano’s Top Attractions

Last Updated on Friday 01st, November 2013 / 03:48 Written by
Discover San Gimignano’s Top Attractions
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Maybe the best known and most visited medieval hill town of Tuscany and Italy, San Gimignano delle Belle Torri, the city of the beautiful towers, is made unique and unmistakable thanks to its famous medieval towers.

The city of the Beautiful Towers

The incredible and spectacular skyline of towers pointing to the sky, soon imprints on your memory. You see it and immediately it becomes unforgettable 🙂

Just 13 towers out of the original 72 have survived through centuries. Imagine how San Gimignano would have looked like with as many as 72 towers! What a vision!

The towers and tower-houses were built by noble families during the Middle Ages; being a demonstration of power and wealth, each family did compete with the others to build the tallest and most beautiful tower of all.

The most popular towers are the Torre Grossa or Torre del Podestà, the Torre Rognosa, and the Torre del Diavolo. You can find one of my posts specifically dedicated to the Towers of San Gimignano with the legend about the Devil’s Tower.

 San Gimignano’s Strategic Location

San Gimignano medieval town with towers in ItalySan Gimignano’s location in the heart of Tuscany, makes it the perfect holiday destination for anyone looking to discover the best of this wonderful region of Italy; San Gimignano is an ideal base for a holiday in Tuscany.

Rising on top of a scenic hill on the Elsa Valley, it enjoys amazing views all over the charming surrounding countryside.

About halfway between Florence and Siena, San Gimignano is still part of the Chianti region, and can be the ideal starting point to embark on a lot of day trips: from Florence and Siena to Monteriggioni, Volterra, Certaldo, and the many charming villages in Chianti.

A thousand years ago the Via Francigena, the main pilgrimage route connecting Canterbury and the north of Europe to Rome, ran right through San Gimignano.

Almost intact defensive walls enclose imposing towers and narrow streets that climb up and down the hill… San Gimignano is a village suspended in time that still retains all its medieval atmosphere; walking through its characteristic alleys is a real delight!

No wonder that San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

San Gimignano’s Top Sights and Attractions

 Here is a brief guideline to San Gimignano’s main sights, hope you find that useful: 

  • The Museo Civico and Pinacoteca, inside the Palazzo del Podestà or Town’s Hall, is home to outstanding paintings and masterpieces of art by Benozzo Gozzoli, Pinturicchio, Pier Francesco Fiorentino, Filippino Lippi, and many others. 

  • Torre Grossa, also called Torre del Podestà: That’s the only tower in San Gimignano you can climb up, it’s 54 metres high and once up there you will get a vast and amazing panorama down the village and all over the surrounding green hills. You can access the tower from the Town’s Hall. 

  • Piazza della Cisterna is an incredibly charming and characteristic medieval square, named after the public cistern that dates back to the far 1273, to be found in the center of the piazza. The square is enclosed by towers and beautiful palaces. 

  • San Gimignano 1300: a real attraction! It’s a scale reproduction (all done by hand) of the medieval city  in the Middle Ages, and exactly in the year 1300. You will literally embark on a journey back in time and see how San Gimignano was like at the time of its maximum development.

  • The view from the Rocca: Rising on the highest part of the village is the 14th century Rocca with its one surviving tower; it is the old fortress of San Gimignano enclosing a lovely garden with figs and olive trees, and an ancient well. From the ramparts you get outstanding views over the scenic countryside. 

  • The Torture Museum, located within the Devil’s Tower in Piazza della Cisterna, displays all instruments and techniques of medieval torture and even preserves ancient documents of the Santa Inquisizione. A must see! actually very interesting, though a bit shocking if you consider that many of these tortures are still in use today. 

  • The Collegiata Church or Duomo: beautiful Romanesque church, built on three naves and filled with beautiful frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Taddeo Bartolo.

  • Fonti Medievali: Medieval Fountains date back as far as the 9th century, during the Middle Ages here people got water and washed their clothes. They are characterized by 10 Romanesque arches.

The garden of the Rocca in San Gimignano TuscanyI also suggest a relaxing walk all along the circle of walls surrounding San Gimignano’ s historical center, you’ll get enchanting views.

San Gimignano’s great Local Products

San Gimignano is also famous for its Vernaccia wine production and the cultivation of saffron.

  • The Vernaccia white wine di San Gimignano is one of the finest white wines of Italy, and the first wine to gain the DOC denomination. I suggest you visit  the Vernaccia Wine Museum, located in the Villa of the Rocca di Montestaffoli.
  • Saffron is a very precious spice derived from a flower. Flowers are collected at dawn, when they are still closed. To have a kilogram of spice you need about 150,000 flowers! It still has a leading role in the economy of the town, as had in the past, especially in the 13th century when, in some cases, it was even used instead of money. Its flavor is distinctive and slightly bitter. It goes well with fish, vegetables, and meat.

Chic Hotels in San Gimignano

1. Hotel Antico Pozzo

San Gimignano and its surroundings are full of charming hotels, farmhouses, and special accommodations. For a great stay right in San Gimignano’s historical center, I suggest the elegant and romantic 3 star hotel Antico Pozzo, offering refined bedrooms in a historical residence. Some rooms are beautifully adorned by frescoes.

2. Locanda Viani

While just outside San Gimignano’s mighty walls, I suggest staying at Locanda Viani, a special place with an ancient history and an extraordinary view right over San Gimignano and its irresistible towers.

Have you ever been to San Gimignano? Do visit it if you plan to come to Tuscany 🙂

San Gimignano on the Map


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About the author

Hi! My name is Elena, I'm a travel writer and a happy mom living near Florence. I love to explore Tuscany to discover special places and I have a great passion for Tuscan Cooking. On this blog I share my experiences on special hotels and places to visit in Tuscany and Italy, and about my grandmother's tasty Recipes! I'm happy to help travelers plan their holiday in Tuscany :-)

View all articles by elena nacci

10 Comments on “Discover San Gimignano’s Top Attractions

  • Nice article but you forgot to mention Agriturismo Guardastelle (www.guardastelle.com) in the chic hotels…well, we’re not a hotel….an agriturismo! 😉

    Ciao!
    Fausto

    Reply
  • elena nacci Post author

    Ciao Fausto! Your agriturismo in San Gimignano is very charming! great for anyone looking for a farmhouse and agriturismo in this wonderful area of Tuscany! 🙂

    Reply
  • Hi Elena, I’m loving your blog. I will be in Florence for 3 days in June and I still can decide where to go in Tuscany. I would love to spend a day in one of the cities but they are all sooo BEAUTIFUL. What to do? I’ll be traveling with my mom and 21 yrs old daughter. HELP

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Dear Ana,
      So happy you love my blog 🙂
      Are you staying all the 3 days in Florence? You will love it!

      You’re right, all the cities in Tuscany are so beautiful…you visiting just one of them? 🙂 If I had to choose I will definitely go for Siena, one of the major art towns but with all the charm of a smaller medieval village. Also San Gimignano with its towers would be great, or even Pisa and its Leaning Tower…Take a look at all the fantastic destinations you could visit on a day trip from Florence and then choose the one that most inspires you 🙂

      Reply
  • Hello Elena
    Have just discovered you blog. My family and I are travelling to Florence for 5 days in September. Your posts about the towns around Tuscany are so informative and well set out. Thankyou . Your information is helping us to choose a few days trips that we hope to include while we are in your lovely part of the world. We are thinking of Pisa & San Gimignano . Do you have any other suggestions for places to visit with 2 children age 12 & 9 ?

    Thank you

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Hello Nicole,
      Many thanks for contacting me.
      You may enjoy a visit to Vinci, birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci, where you could viit the very interesting museums devoted to his incredible inventions, I think that will be interesting for the children as well.
      Needless to say that Florence has a lot to offer to children, both museums and activities.
      Other interesting and beautiful places to visit may be Volterra and Siena.
      Finally, this is my list of the best day trips from Florence.

      Do not hesitate to contact me again,
      Have a nice day,
      elena

      Reply
  • Hi Elena,
    I love your site, very informative!

    My family of five will arrive Rome on May 5 2017, and we will go straight to San Gimignano for a 5-nite stay in Locanda Vianni (as read on your site), would you please advise how we can reach Locanda Vianni from Rome.

    We plan to rent a car only in Sn Gimignano or Florence to tour the nearby towns (again i got it from your site).

    thank you in advance.

    Aida

    Reply
    • elena nacci Post author

      Hi Aida,
      I’m back again after a long pause, sorry for the delay!
      Locanda Viani is a great place! My friend Roberto is a great host. I guess you are arriving from Rome to Florence by train, you can check trains here, you should digit Roma Termini to Firenze Santa Maria Novella stations. Fast trains called Frecciarossa will take you in Florence in about 2 hours and half. If you don’t mind renting the car directly in Florence (sometimes driving in Florence can be crazy) you can arrive to Locanda Viani by car in about one hour. On the other hand you could take a train from Florence to Poggibonsi and from there take a local bus to San Gimignano,
      For any further question I’m here,
      Have a nice day,
      elena

      Reply

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