The historic centre of the well kept medieval village of San Gimignano is classified by Unesco as World Heritage site since 1990.
This village is situated about 384m above sea level and apart from being important as a defense point, it was also an important village for pilgrims traveling to and from Rome on the called Via Francigena.
The Tourism Office is a busy “office” loaded with visitors. If you plan to ask for some information when you arrive in San Gimignano be prepared to wait (if you are visiting in peak season). As we didn’t feel like waiting and we had already read about San Gimignano, we gave up and left the office, so I cannot account for the helpfulness of the staff.
The Tourism Office is situated near the S. Giovanni entrance door – on the Piazza del Duomo, by the Town Hall.
One of the most pleasing characteristics of San Gimignano are the flowered windows and balconies. As we visited in summer, plants were blooming and most windows and backyards were brightly “dressed” in colourful flowers.
If you enjoy photography, San Gimignano’s flowered balconies and backyards will provide plenty of opportunities to use your camera, so pack some extra film or memory card.
San Gimignano is a lovely village to visit, set on top of a hill on the plains of Tuscany. It is often called the Manhattan of Tuscany due to its medieval high towers.
We found San Gimignano too touristy and loaded with buses full of visitors; still, we don’t regret having visited as we found it really beautiful and ideal for a daytrip. The worst it may happen is that you have to wait longer to visit some monument.
Major highlights of the medieval village are the towers, walls, churches and narrow cobbled streets.
Favorite thing: This was definitely my favourite town in Tuscany. It's a very attractive town full of towers, and surrounded by a city wall. No cars are allowed inside the city wall which makes it very nice to stroll along the cobbled narrow streets. The only thing that I didn't like about this town, it is very crowded by tourists. Never saw that many tourists in the other towns we've visited.
This area is know for it's delicious wine and olive oil.
There are several opportunities to taste these delicacies at the place where they were produced.
Big signs accros the road will lead you to this places.
We wanted to visit one but didn't found the place very inviting. Don't give up to soon. You wil find more likely a nice spot when it is touristic high season.
The fortess - the ROCCA was built in 1353.
Its ramparts just above the town afford fine views of some of the towers. Its also a popular place for musicians and artists. We came back with a lovely watercolour of the town from here, sold to us by the artist.
This is in one of the two main squares of the town. There are these tall medieva "skyscvrapers" :)) that make San Gimignano so recognizable among many Tuscan views, it realy stands out.
The square is very cute and vivid, so lively and intimate at the same time.
Favorite thing: One of the best things to do in San Gimignano is to get lost wandering the superclean, cobblestone streets. There are so many cool alleyways, dead ends, etc. to keep you and your camera busy for hours.
A very cool fact is that you can walk around the original city walls. They were erected in the year 1251. There were two main gates, the San Giovanni and San Matteo. There are a few other gates, as well: the Delle Fonti, Quercecchio and S.Jacopo
All of the stone came from the nearby quarry of Pecille.
Favorite thing: There used to be 72 towers here but today only 14 remain. At one time it was forbidden to build a tower taller than La Rognosa, the 165-foot-high tower of the town hall so to compensate wealthy families built twin towers! The tower of the new town hall in 1298 surpassed the height of La Rognosa. Today this can be climbed for stupendous views over the town and surrounding tuscan rolling countryside.
On the right-hand side of the church is the Town Hall with a tower and a loggia with three arcades. The Town Hall was erected starting from 1288. The loggia was erected ten years later and the tower in 1311.
During the XIV century the Town Hall was enlarged and the loggia was decorated. This loggia was never used and in the XVI century it became a porch. It was again converted into a loggia in 1934.
Photo taken by our guide.
Favorite thing: The Gate of San Giovanni was erected in 1262. This gate, surmounted by a guard-room, is characterized by a peculiar segmental arch, an architectural feature typical of the nearby town of Siena. Through this gate you enter the town and find yourselves in Via San Giovanni, an important street since ancient times.
In the Piazza della Cisterna, ringed by a jumble of unspoilt 13th- and 14th-century palazzi, is a wellhead built in 1237.
Piazza della Cisterna is named after the well at its centre.
Photo taken by our guide.
San Gimignano rises on a hill (334m high) dominating the Elsa Valley with its towers. Once the seat of a small Etruscan village of the Hellenistic period (200-300 BC) it began its life as a town in the 10th century taking its name from the Holy Bishop of Modena, St. Gimignano, who is said to have saved the village from the barbarian hordes.
Photo was taken by our guide.