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 😉 .