Take a step back in time as you explore the grandiose plazas and frescoed churches of this medieval town set above Val d’Elsa in the heart of Tuscany.
Rising out of Tuscany’s lush green countryside is the dreamlike San Gimignano. Once a stopover for pilgrims on route to Rome along the Via Francigena, today this is arguably Italy’s most beautiful medieval town. Discover fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture as you wander along winding alleys. Browse exhibitions of antique art and drink in the atmosphere at stately squares.
San Gimignano’s core is its enchanting and UNESCO-protected walled old town. Meandering around the brick-paved streets presents the chance to delve into the town’s 700-year-old history.
Piazza Duomo, one of three interconnecting central squares, is a great place to start your tour. Marvel at the 14th-century paintings of biblical scenes that beautify the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano. Browse further collections of art at the San Gimignano Communal Palace. Enjoy sweeping views from the palace’s Torre Grossa, one of the 14 remaining of 72 towers that once punctuated the skyline.
Pass through a monumental archway to Piazza della Cisterna, the town’s historical gathering place for social activities. Gaze in admiration at 13th-century palaces and towers such as Torre dei Becco and Torre dei Cugnanesi. Take some time out at peaceful Piazza delle Erbe.
Find more architectural wonders a short walk from the old town’s center. Among these are Chiesa di Sant’Agostino and Chiesa di San Pietro in Forliano, set around Piazza Sant’Agostino.
San Gimignano has its curiosities, too. See displays of bird taxidermy at the Ornithological Museum. Get up close with original and reconstructed torture devices at the Museum of Torture. Sample locally-produced wine and learn about the town’s winemaking traditions at the Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine Museum.
Throughout year, fairs, farmers’ markets and festivals bring color to the town’s squares. Visit in January or February, when the flamboyant parades of the Carnival of San Gimignano take over the streets.
Situated in the Tuscan province of Siena, San Gimignano is about a 1-hour drive from the cities of Florence and Siena.