Tuscany is on your wish list as your next destination for a dream holiday. Where is a great location to use as a base to visit and explore Tuscany?

San Gimignano as a base in Tuscany

I’ve dedicated many posts on the blog to what is the best base to stay in Tuscany, and I give several options, from Chianti and the Val d’Orcia in the countryside to larger art towns like Florence or Siena, up to smaller hill towns like Cortona or Montepulciano. Choosing a destination rather than another depends on the type of vacation you’re looking for.

Any place I suggest can be perfect for a great holiday in Italy; so just choose the one that most suits your needs 🙂

San Gimignano medieval village

Another fantastic destination in Tuscany I highly recommend to use as a base is the scenic medieval village of San Gimignano, in the province of Siena, southwest of Florence.

San Gimignano, UNESCO World Heritage Site, has its main characteristic in its slender towers and peculiar architecture gives its visitor the sensation to live in the Middle Ages. Its small historical center is a real art jewel that retains all the charm of a bygone era.

San Gimignano is actually a fairytale village standing on a hill overlooking a marvelous countryside and enjoying enchanting vistas.

There are a lot of things to see in San Gimignano, from great works of art, beautiful frescoes, wonderful churches and interesting museums, to excellent food, wine and local products, including Vernaccia white wine, saffron, and one of the best gelato ice-cream of Italy!

There are many good reasons to choose San Gimignano a base in Tuscany, and it should be on your list of the must see visits of Tuscany, being one of the most beautiful villages of Italy itself.

Day Trips from San Gimignano

The location of San Gimignano in the scenic countryside of the Val d’Elsa between Florence and Siena makes a perfect starting point to visit some of the most attractive destinations in Tuscany. The use of a car is recommended to move around. Let’s see what are the best day trips having San Gimignano as your home base with the approximate car distance:

  • Certaldo (20 minutes) is famous not only for being the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio but also for its great charm: the feeling of stepping back in time to the Middle Ages. A visit not to be missed!
  • Volterra (35 minutes), famous for its alabaster manufacturing, is one of the villages to be discovered especially thanks to its Etruscan origins
  • Colle di Val d’Elsa (20 minutes) offers a beautiful view of the surrounding hills, full of olive trees and vines. Famous for its crystal manufacturing.
  • Monteriggioni (30 minutes) a very tiny village frozen in time really worth a visit for its incredible massive circle of medieval walls and bastions.
  • Siena (45 minutes) the wonderful medieval town of the Palio, boasting one of the most beautiful piazzas in the world!
  • Florence (55 minutes) beautiful in every aspect, art, culture, architecture, fashion shops and much more.
  • Chianti and its charming hill towns (1 hour) probably the most well known area of Tuscany for its scenic landscape and its fine wines
  • Pisa (1 hour and 20 minutes) the unique town in the world to have a miracle of architecture: Piazza dei Miracoli
  • Lucca (1 hour and half) small and enchanting medieval walled town with a fantastic walk on the walls and a lovely town center full of charming shops
  • Cortona (1 hour and half) irresistible small town atop a hill with a gorgeous vista
  • Montalcino (1 hour and 20 minutes) and other stunning villages of the splendid Val d’Orcia Natural Park south of Siena
  • Montepulciano (1 hour and half) an incredibly beautiful town with a stunning panorama, perfect Renaissance palaces, nice shops and great restaurants.

As for where to stay in San Gimignano, there are many chic and special properties to stay, both in its town center and in the surrounding area.


  • Jodi Moses ha detto:

    Help! We are deciding between staying in San Giminiano and Cortona as a base for our family vacation this summer. Which is a better location for exploring the region. We are
    Considering staying at Il Borghetto in San Gimiano and Le Terre Dei Cavalieri in Cortona. Which is better?

    • elena nacci ha detto:

      Hi Jodi! Tuscany is the right place for a family vacation 🙂
      Both San Gimignano and Cortona can be great as a base. They are both beautiful hill towns surrounded by a splendid countryside with vineyards and olive groves. I love San Gimignano and its towers, its medieval atmosphere is unique, San Gimignano can be a great base to explore the most popular sights of Tuscany, considering its location in central Tuscany between Florence and Siena. Here is a post dedicated to using San Gimignano as a base in Tuscany with a list of the best day trips you can make from there.
      Cortona is located in the southeast of Tuscany so it can be great to go exploring southern Tuscany and also the wonderful Umbria region. It is fact near the beautiful Trasimeno Lake in Umbria. Here are tips on how to use Cortona as a base in Tuscany.
      How long are you staying in Tuscany? you may even decide to split your stay between San Gimignano and Cortona!
      Let me know if I can be of further help,
      Have a nice day,

  • Harshal Dunakhe ha detto:

    Hi, I am planning a trip to Italy with my wife in October. we plan to spend 5 days in Tuscany, am planning to drive myself and spend time in Tuscany on the way, on the route from Rome to Venice or venice to Rome. can you suggest which way is better, and best places to stay and places to visit (5 days). we love the countryside and experience the local culture, cuisine and meet people. Cooking is my hobby, if you can suggest places where i can learn authentic italian cooking, it would be helpful. looking forward to your help.

    Have a nice day!

    • elena nacci ha detto:

      Hi Harshal,
      many thanks for your message.
      The car is the best way to explore Italy 🙂

      The route from Rome to Venice is full of great sights, especially from Rome to Florence in Tuscany, this route in fact crosses the wonderful countryside of Tuscany…Val d’Orcia, Chianti, and a myriad of small amazing hill villages all to discover.
      As cooking is your hobby you can’t go wrong in Tuscany! On your way from Rome to Florence you can stop in the magical countryside south of Siena and experience some great cooking courses at Farmhouse il Rigo near the scenic village of Pienza.

      From Florence, where I would leave the car, I would take a fast train taking you directly to Venice. Venice is so beautiful!

      Let me know if you need any more help,
      Have a nice day,
      elena from Florence

  • Tim ha detto:

    So where in SG should I go for the best gelato?! Thanks!!!

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