tuscany guide

02 – San Gimignano

Town of beautiful towers
Distance from Siena: 50 km (~31 mi)
Travel time: ~ 50 minutes

Drive out of Siena onto SS674 and continue northwest towards Poggibonsi. Before the town, take SP1 road towards San Gimignano.
From Siena, we set off for a small walled medieval hill town, which has become one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the province – San Gimignano, the Town of Fine Towers.

Fourteen fine towers rise above the town like medieval skyscrapers welcoming their guests and echoing the town's splendid past.

San Gimignano is famous for its medieval architecture with notable examples of Romanesque and Gothic traditions. The Historic center of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Besides its splendid architecture, San Gimignano is famous for its white wine produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape, the Golden Ham, and saffron.
History of the city
Originally an Etruscan village, the town became a commune in the 12th century that prospered largely due to its strategic location on the Via Francigena, an ancient road and pilgrim route running from France to Rome.

Building towers higher than their neighbors became “a thing” in the Middle Ages as the manifestation of power and wealth of its owners. Thus by the 14th century, San Gimignano had 72 of those beautiful towers. Civil strife and the plague in the 14th century led to the decline of the city and its transfer to Florence. The proud and zealous Florentines soon began to reduce the size of the towers to the height of the houses. However, some were preserved and can be seen in their original state.

I recommend spending at least a day exploring the town. Of course, a trip to the Town of Fine Towers won’t be complete without visiting some of its famous architectural landmarks, many of which still bear the names of the families who built them.

You can start exploring the town from its very heart, the main square, Piazza della Cisterna. The square is named after the 13th-century cistern in its center and is now surrounded by medieval houses from different ages, among which are some fine examples of Romanesque and Gothic buildings.

Piazza Duomo, which is located to the north of Piazza della Cisterna, is another must-visit destination while in San Gimignano, with the Collegiate Church in its center and other important buildings like Palazzo Communale and Palazzo Podesta, the house of the mayor. Palazzo Podesta houses magnificently frescoed Sala di Dante. While you’re at it, be sure to climb 218 steps of Palazzo’s Torre Grossa for a spectacular view over the town and the vicinity.

While enjoying the historical and architectural landmarks of San Gimignano, do not forget to try the town’s famous white wine Vernaccia at any of the town’s many restaurants.

Наслаждаясь историческим и архитектурным достоянием Сан-Джиминьяно, не стоит забывать и про его знаменитое белое вино Верначча. Его вы сможете попробовать любом из многочисленных кафе на узких улочках средневекового города.
Рекомендации по фотосъемке

Если вы подниметесь на одну из башен, вам откроется замечательный вид на сам город и панораму его окрестностей. Отсюда можно сделать хорошие панорамные снимки Сан-Джиминьяно и окружающих его холмов.
Photography recommendations
If you climb on top of any of the famous towers, you can photograph a beautiful panorama of the town and its surrounding hills.