Certaldo - Two towns for the price of one
"Downstairs, the new town, shopping, real life"
If you can't find space to breathe in San Gimignano, as the coach-loads descend every day, head north to Certaldo - a hill town in minature with its own charm.
Below the old town, a substantial, living, new(er) town has grown up. While not pretty in itself, it is the gateway to the upper town.
"The Stairs - The Funicular"
If you are travelling independently, park in the lower town and head for the main piazza. On one side of the square, a couple of small doors in the buildings hide the entrance to the funicular, and a couple of euros will get you a return ticket (where to? back here of course!)
"Upstairs - The old town on the hill"
The upper town is compact and quiet - at least in May, while its neighbour, San Gimignano, which can be seen from the ramparts, is heaving. The place reminds me more of Carcassonne in France than its closer relative, with narrower streets, fewer towers, and less tourist shops - in fact almost none.