San Gimignano: the Renaissance Town in the Tuscany hills
October 25, 2016
Location: Italy, San Gimignano
San Gimignano is located in the Province of Siena, in Tuscany, Italy.
How to get there, best time and cost
By Car: From Florence join the dual carriageway Firenze-Siena toward Siena and go toward “Poggibonsi Nord” Exit, then follow the directions to San Gimignano (km. 11).
From Siena Join the dual carriageway Firenze-Siena but this time toward Florence, and follow the same directions I mentioned before. The car park is just outside San Gimignano entrance, which is less than 1 minute by walk from the main gate and it cost 1,50 € per hour.
By Bus: there are many daily buses (“Train” & “Sita” companies) from Florence and Siena to San Gimignano:
From Siena to San Gimignano take the bus N° “130”.
From Florence to San Gimignano (60 km) take the buses N° “131” from “Santa Maria Novella Bus & Train Station” to “Poggibonsi”, and then take the N° 130 to San Gimignano.
By Train: From South or North of Italy take the train “Pisa-Empoli” or “Empoli-Siena” and get down to Poggibonsi, then take the bus to San Gimignano (I don’t suggest you this option).
By bike and by walk: simple using the “Via Francigena”, the ancient pilgrim trail, and following the signals on the road. For further informations and maps visit francigenaways.com.
Costs: San Gimignano is always open and you don’t have to pay any entrance fee.
Where to sleep: Personally I prefered to stay in Florence, but there are many Hotels, B&B and agritourism in San Gimignano and surroundings.
Best time: you can visit San Gimignano all year round, but in my opinion the best moment is in spring, weather is good and it is not as crowded as summer.
Before to visit Monteriggioni (click here to read the related post) I headed for San Gimignano, a beautiful renaissance town surrounded by Tuscany green hills and in the middle of the nature. This town is a mix between Gothic and Romanesque architecture and still preserve the most of the original buildings, including the 12 towers houses, unique for the peculiar composition. When you set foot in San Gimignano is like time never passed and you understand why UNESCO included the historic centre in the World Heritage list.
My tour started from “Porta San Giovanni” one of the 3 gates of the walled city, located in the southern part of San Gimignano. Leaving behdind the gate I arrive in the main street “Via San Giovanni” which with “Via San Matteo” cross the village from south to north.
After contemplating the beautiful and suggestive little streets you arrive in “Piazza della cisterna”, the main square and the heart of the town. It has a triangular shape and surrounded by tower houses, with a cistern in the middle of that dates back to the 13th century.
“Piazza della Cisterna” is linked to the nearby “Piazza del Duomo”, where are located the “Palazzo Comunale” and the main Church of San Gimignano “Santa Maria Assunta”. The last one is also known as the “Collegiate” which still preserve very beautiful cycles frescos of religious and cultural value by famous artists such as Taddeo di Bartolo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Benozzo Gozzoli etc..
Following the little passage behind the “Colleggiata” church you can get the ancient fortress “Rocca di Montestaffoli”, the ruins of the Castle of the Lombard Astolfo first, and then a Dominican convent. It was originally built by the Florentines to prevent the attacks by Siena.
Every year, exactly in the third weekend of June, in this place takes part the famous medieval festival “Ferie delle messi” with the tournament “La giostra dei bastioni” that personally I didn’t see it, but people told me it’s a must-see show 😉 (more info on www.sangimignano.com).
In addition, the panoramic view from the 2 terraces on the top of the Rocca di Montestaffoli is absolutely breath-taking. From the left side you can see the main entrance, whereas from the right side you can enjoy the view of the gardens and of the entire town.
A special thanks goes to my friends Giulia Terrosi and Giulia Neulen to guided and show me awesome places around Tuscany.
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I suggest you 1 day tour visiting Monteriggioni (Click here to see the related post) and San Gimignano.
Remember to visit the “Rocca di Montestaffoli” to enjoy the amazing Panorama from the top.
Taste the tuscany cuisine in one of the many restaurants in “Piazza delle erbe”, remember to ask for “Coniglio alla vernaccia”… extremely delicious 😉 .
I had to laugh about how you don’t suggest using the train. I’m sure I’ve missed so many great sights in Europe and elsewhere since I only use public transit outside of North America. The pics look lovely!
Had never heard of San Gimignano so it is nice to know. Anything related to the renassance must be a great treasure trove of art and culture. Wonder when I’d be able to make it to Italy but thanks for the tips.
One of the best destinations in Italy! I was there for just half a day and yet felt so good about it.
You have made a good guide on it . Great pics.
Italy is a magical place to be , specially Tuscany. Loved your article and pictures
Thank you so much for your kind words 🙂 glad you like it.
We have a restaurant named San Gimignano in Delhi. I have always been wondering about the place it is named after and I found your post. Can’t we stay in this beautiful town??
I study architecture and this is one of the towns I studied when learning about medieval architecture. It is such an interesting place to visit. The views of the hills are stunning!
Quite gorgeous! I’d love to go here one day and explore myself. I’ll have to go when it’s low season though to escape the tourists.
That is such a lovely blog. Italy has always fascinated me. One of my friend, who has never been to Italy is obsessed with Amalfi Coast. I find Tuscany attractive for the exact reasons you have mentioned here.
I hope I make it there the next year.
I’ve been there several years ago 🙂 This place is so magical and has an amazing atmosphere. I must admit, that I’m addicted to Italian travels. Love it!
I really like the structured style and informative nature of your posts. However I think it would be better if you first let the reader know what the destination is about and why they should visit it. Only after that would I be interested in how to get there and the other practical details.
How cool is it that San Gimignano is a surrounded by a wall. That’s give you a real taste of the past. The streets there look so cool and the view of the Tuscan hills is incredible. Kudos for the directions and utips.
San Gimignano. I love the sound of some of those aitalian names. And with most towns in Italy this seems like another beauty, great photos, the scenery and buildings look quite stunning. As always, your work is excellent.
I’m dying at your pictures, how gorgeous!!! I love Italian architecture so much. I also love their darling towns and San Ginignano looks so lovely! Next time I’m in Italy I’ll have to see if I can go~
This place looks beautiful! That was one thing I noticed about Italy when I was there. It is so easy to drive past these amazing small towns. It is such a shame but there are so many. This one looks particularly beautiful though!
This looks like a beautiful place. How much time it takes to reach here from florence? I am going to be in florence in a few months time, I would like to visit if I can accommodate
We spent a couple of weeks road tripping through Italy this fall and really enjoyed it. It’s amazing how the country changes the further south you get. In the north, it just feels like you’re in Austria, but central and southern Italy have a charm all their own. I have to admit I didn’t fall in love with Tuscany, but I did find the town of Siena utterly charming. San Gimignana looks equally scenic.
I was lucky since a very good friend of mine is from Florence…so she accompanied me in an amazing Tour around Tuscany, and I could see many hidden places only locals know, that’s such a big difference 🙂 .
There are so many nice towns in Italy. After visiting a few it is sometimes hard to see the differences. There big differences are usually in the larger buildings such as the castles or the view from a hill. One thing is for sure, San Gimignano really looks like a cozy town. 🙂
Totally agree with you Jesper, we have so many nice town in Italy, many of them are really similar, but as you said, they’re really cozy….and the food is always amazing 🙂
I can definitely see why this got UNESCO heritage status 🙂 Your photos are great: the architecture is beautiful and some of the scenery is sublime. Tuscany is famous for being a beautiful region of Italy, and places like this will only enhance its reputation.
I was just in Italy this summer and had no idea about this! We visited Tuscany, well, Chianti to do a wine tasting but this looks just as amazing! As a side note, I did go to a wedding in a Castle in Bolzano which was pretty Medieval! 🙂 love the pictures!
Thank you 🙂 well in Tuscany San Gimignano is pretty famous…actually is one of the most visited place in this region. Next time you’ll come back to Florence, rememeber to visit San Gimignano, Monteriggioni and Fiesole ;), they really worth it.
I think anywhere and everywhere in Italy is beautiful. i would love to visit someday and eat my way through the many restaurants in the piazzas, boulevards and squares of this country.
A really thorough and informative guide here and you’re right, it really is easy to see why UNESCO included San Gimignano on their list of heritage sites. Piazzas in Tuscany are so wonderfully quaint and I love just lingering over a coffee or a wine as they supply a great spot for people watching. The architecture too, looks really spectacular.
San Gimignano looks stunning. It’s so interesting to see so much history around every little corner or up an alley. I really like how you use your headline topics. I am always wondering how difficult it is to get somewhere, and you provided all of the info for me.
Wow looks absolutely beautiful, the streets kind of remind me a little of Split but smaller and quieter- lovely! Really like how you’ve got a comprehensive ‘how to get there’ guide too 🙂
I have heard about this place before. From the pictures it does look majestic.
This place is really awesome, if you’ve never been in Italy, San Gimignano represent the typical town in Tuscany Renaissance 🙂 so add it to your list if you’re planning a tour in our country
Would it be more expensive to get a fixed tour rather than a DIY tour?
I admit, the film “Under the Tuscan Sun” influenced me to keep a visit to Tuscany on my bucket list. If I get there, I make sure to keep San Gimignano in mind!
You totally should to keep in mind 🙂 San Gimignano is a must see in Tuscany 😉 if you’ll need anything to know about it, don’t hesitate to contact me :D.