10 Best Things to do in San Gimignano, the wonderful medieval town!
a san gimignao

Let’s discover what to see in San Gimignano. The town stands on a hill surrounded by the Tuscan Val d’Elsa countryside, about halfway between Florence and Siena. It is famous for being one of Tuscany’s most beautiful medieval towns.


To visit San Gimignano, we come to the heart of the Val d’Elsa. The town, located 56 kilometres from Florence and about 30 kilometres from Siena, stands on top of a hill about 330 metres high, with its Towers, the symbol of medieval Tuscan architecture.

“Manhattan of the Middle Ages” and “City of Beautiful Towers” are the names by which the town is known. In the Middle Ages, 72 tower-houses were built in San Gimignano, as symbols of the most wealthy and powerful patrician families.

Since 1990, San Gimignano has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its great historical, artistic and architectural value. Here’s why this wonderful town is like a magnet, attracting tourists from all over the world and all year round. Its appearance has remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, thanks to a decree that prohibited the destruction of existing buildings from 1282 on condition that more beautiful ones were built.




Which is the best time to visit San Gimignano and its surroundings? Although Tuscany is always fascinating, the best time to enjoy its beauty is in Spring. In this season San Gimignano, surrounded by hills and vineyards, offers relaxing natural sceneries all around and a mild climate. In summer, the town offers festivals and events, but it is recommended in the low season to fully enjoy your visit.


🧳 Travel to San Gimignano with gusto! See all the experiences!


What to visit in San Gimignano in one day
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san gimignano
Pixabay, ejakob


If you have planned a visit to San Gimignano, get ready to explore the main attractions you don’t want to miss. Let’s start with the 1-day itinerary, short but intense, for those who will make a quick stop. For a longer stay, there is more to visit and to do in San Gimignano and in its surroundings full of life.

Like any other medieval town, San Gimignano is worth a visit for its historical centre surrounded by 13th century walls, the centrepiece of which is Piazza della Cisterna.

You can access the historic centre, a pedestrian zone, through its several ancient gates: Porta San Matteo, Porta San Giovanni, Porta Quercecchio, Porta San Jacopo and Porta delle Fonti. We recommend parking just outside the walls and walking to the centre or taking a bus as an alternative.


1. Duomo of San Gimignano

In Piazza del Duomo you can visit the Collegiata of Santa Maria Assunta, or Cathedral of San Gimignano, consecrated in 1148. If the Romanesque-Gothic façade is not particularly impressive, it is worth visiting the marvellous cycle of frescoes that recount stories from the New and Old Testaments painted by illustrious artists of the 14th-century Sienese school.

In the Cathedral you can also visit the Renaissance Chapel of Santa Fina. Next to the Duomo, the Dormitory of the Chaplains houses the Museum of Sacred Art. Here you can admire sculptures, paintings, textiles, silverware, bas-reliefs and old manuscripts.


2. Chapel of Santa Fina

san gimignano italy
Pixabay, fgeissler


The Chapel of Santa Fina (short for “Iosefina”) dates back to the early Renaissance and is located in the right aisle of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta. It was designed by Giuliano and Benedetto da Maiano in 1468 to house the relics of the saint. The frescoes decorating the walls of the chapel were painted by the famous Domenico Ghirlandaio (1477-1478).

The story of Santa Fina is very touching that’s why Ghirlandaio decided to tell some fragments of her life through the frescoes. Iosefina died very young, but was comforted by her great faith. She developed a paralytic illness and was constrained to bed at only 10 years old, and she also lost her mum. According to legend, after the death of her mother Fina lived an ascetic lifestyle so strict she was, in the end, scarcely able to move.

Despite all these tragic events, she kept her faith alive until the end, foretold by St Gregory the Great to whom she was devoted. It is said that at the exact moment of Fina’s passing, all the bells of San Gimignano rang without anyone touching them. It seems that many miracles also occurred at her tomb. For her tormented life, but above all for her great faith and spirituality, Iosefina was elected Patron Saint of San Gimignano.


3. Piazza del Duomo and Palazzo del Popolo

Pixabay, Michelle_Maria


In Piazza del Duomo you can also admire the Loggia del Comune and the Palazzo del Popolo (or Palazzo del Podestà), symbol of civic power, dating back to the 13th century. The palace now houses the San Gimignano Civic Museum with masterpieces by artists such as Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli and Filippino Lippi.

The square is very evocative because it still retains the medieval atmosphere of centuries and centuries ago, thanks to its palaces, the Cathedral, the twin towers, Torre Rognosa and Torre Chigi, and the Torre Grossa next to Palazzo del Popolo.


4. San Gimignano Municipal Museums

What to see in San Gimignano, if not the wonderful art all around? The Civic Museums are a must-see if you love art, but also if you want to enjoy Italy’s artistic DNA to the full.

The tour includes the museum in the Palazzo Comunale, the Pinacoteca, the Torre Grossa, the Spezieria di Santa Fina, the Archaeological Museum and the Church of San Lorenzo in Ponte.

On the first floor is Dante’s Room, so named in memory of the poet’s stay in San Gimignano in 1300 as ambassador of the Guelph League. A cycle of frescoes from around 1290 bring to life the knightly tournaments and hunting scenes in honour of King Charles of Anjou. Another noteworthy fresco is the Madonna in Majesty by Lippo Memmi (1317), a painter of the Sienese school.

On the second floor is the Pinacoteca with the artistic masterpieces of the greatest Sienese and Florentine painters (‘200-‘400): the already mentioned Filippino Lippi, Benozzo Gozzoli, Benedetto da Maiano, Pinturicchio.

Among the things to see in San Gimignano is the Archaeological Museum with exhibits from Etruscan, Roman and medieval times. One section exhibits Etruscan-Roman works dating as far back as the 7th to 1st century B.C.; the other is dedicated to handicrafts during the Middle Ages, with glass and ceramics.


5. Piazza della Cisterna

One of the most beautiful squares in all of Tuscany, Piazza Cisterna is surrounded by historic buildings, such as Palazzo Razzi, Casa Salvestrini and Palazzo Tortoli; and by several famous towers, the Becci and Cugnanesi Towers, the Ardinghelli Twin Towers, the Palazzo Pellari Tower and the Devil’s Tower.

Ancient and evocative, Piazza Cisterna was once the place of markets, festivals, tournaments and medieval jousts. The atmosphere retains the charm of the ancient times also due to the same old conformation with its characteristic triangular shape and red herringbone brick pavement.


6. The Towers of San Gimignano



Between the towers and the walkways along the walls, which still have no less than five gates, San Gimignano is a continuous discovery. From afar, you can see the outline of the towers that grow taller and taller as you get closer. Once here, you can visit the few that have survived. Of the 72 built in the Middle Ages, only about a dozen remain today.

On the right side of Palazzo del Popolo stands out in all its solemnity the 54-metre-high stone Torre Grossa, from the top of which you can enjoy the entire town and the surrounding hills. The others you can visit are the twin Salvucci Towers.


7. Museum of Torture and Inquisition

The three floors of the Torture Museum hide the cruellest torture instruments of the medieval era, from the 16th to the 18th century.
This is an exclusive collection, unique in its kind, bringing together hundreds of implements created to inflict the cruellest tortures: the Guillotine, the Nuremberg Virgin, the Stretching Bench, the Inquisitorial Chair, the Chastity Belt, the Heretic’s Fork, the Bacchanalian Fife, the Flaying Cat, the Spanish Spiders… Not far away is the other museum, the Death Penalty Museum.


8. Church of Sant’Agostino

In San Gimignano in one day, it might seem irrelevant to visit this Romanesque-Gothic church (late 13th century), built in red brick with a bare façade.

But don’t let this dissuade you, because inside the church you’ll be surprised by a spacious room illuminated by the beauty of its many frescos showing different aspects of the life of St. Augustine, painted by Benozzo Gozzoli and Lippo Memmi.


9. Rocca di Montestaffoli and its park

where is san gimignano
Pixabay, kolibri5


Do you want to enjoy great views of San Gimignano? The village and the Val d’Elsa deserve to be seen from more exciting angles… And here we can enjoy a wonderful sightseeing both from the towers and the Rocca di Montestaffoli, a bastion built in the mid-13th century, of which today only the perimeter walls remain.

All around is the green of a park that occasionally hosts events, shows and festivals, such as the Giostra dei Bastoni every year in June.


10. The Medieval Fountains

Retracing the historic pilgrimage route along the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome, you can reach the evocative medieval fountains of San Gimignano (12th century) where people once went to stock up on water.

The springs are located just outside the walls of the historical centre, surrounded by greenery. Their architecture is particularly charming, with Gothic-Romanesque arches over the basins and the water source.


Visit San Gimignano & surroundings
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If your stay can be longer, you can also visit the villages near San Gimignano, along the Via Francigena route.

Among these, we recommend you:


1. Certaldo



It’s called Certaldo and it’s a 20/30 minute drive from San Gimignano. A splendid ancient village, birthplace of Boccaccio, built on Etruscan-Roman hills. Here, too, you can still breathe in the medieval atmosphere with its typical red-brick architecture dating back to the time of Emperor “Barbarossa”.


2. Monteriggioni

Flickr, Ignacio Ferre Pérez


Monteriggioni is only a 30-minute drive from San Gimignano. This small town is surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, immersed in a hypnotic and timeless setting. A fortress built on a hill surrounded by ancient walls that still preserve the 13th century structure. Characteristic gates lead to Piazza Roma, the centre of Monteriggioni. Don’t miss a visit to the walkways on the walls of the Castle, built during the Republic of Siena.


3. Volterra

About 30 kilometres away, between San Gimignano and the beaches of the Tyrrhenian coast lies Volterra, which is worth a visit for its renowned wine and food vocation (good wine and good food!). There is also much to see here, including monuments of Roman and medieval origin, museums, churches, the city walls and other historical buildings such as the Medici Fortress and the Roman Amphitheatre built on the slope of a hill.


4. San Miniato

About an hour from San Gimignano there is another small but marvellous medieval village. It is the characteristic San Miniato of Germanic origin and home of the delicious White Truffle, where one of the biggest culinary events dedicated to the delicious mushroom takes place every year. There are many interesting tastings and taste tours dedicated to this and to other local specialties.


5. Siena

cattedral of siena
Pixabay, Anajim


Siena, the city of Italy’s oldest and most famous Palio horse race, does not need much to be said as it is one of the most beautiful medieval Italian towns, whose beauty and attractions are well known. If you want to reach Siena, the town is about 50 minutes by car from San Gimignano. And it deserves all of them! Here you can concentrate on the essentials: Piazza del Campo, the Duomo, the Santa Maria della Scala and the Church of San Niccolò del Carmine.


What to see in and around San Gimignano: the Top 10 sights

In San Gimignano, what to visit during your stay that you can’t really miss? It is not always possible to do everything planned, so here are the top 10 you should not miss in and around San Gimignano:

  1. Piazza del Duomo
  2. Piazza Cisterna
  3. The Cathedral
  4. The Towers
  5. Church of St. Augustine
  6. Siena
  7. Certaldo
  8. Monteriggioni
  9. San Miniato
  10. Volterra


What to do in San Gimignano
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The activities in San Gimignano can vary and offer interesting ideas for both couples and families with children. Here are some of them you can consider depending on your desires, tastes and… Climate.


Belvedere and photographic shots

To enjoy San Gimignano from above and capture its splendid natural and architectural scenery, you can climb the Rocca di Montestaffoli or the Torre Grossa.


Visits to the San Gimignano Museums

For all the Civic Museums, the cumulative ticket is valid for 2 consecutive days. Free entrance for children under 5 years of age and reduced for children from 6 to 17 years, and for people over 65.

There is also the San Gimignano Pass, the ticket that allows access to the Civic Museums and the Museums of the Parish of Santa Maria Assunta – Cathedral and Museum of Sacred Art.


Itinerary San Gimignano and surroundings on foot or by bike

If you love open-air activities, there are many opportunities to discover the beauty of the area along the ancient Via Francigena, among hills, olive groves and vineyards… on foot or by bike, on your own or guided by experts who know the most exclusive place to visit.
If you already know how long you can stay, and what to do in San Gimignano, plan your activities, so you will know how to get around without missing the initiatives you really love.


Food and Wine Tastings – Cooking classes

Good food and wine are essential on holiday, and especially if you are in Tuscany. Here you can taste local specialities famous all around the world, which become dishes to be enjoyed in local trattorias and restaurants.

Or to be prepared by yourself guided by a local chef who will show you how to make the recipes that have made the history of Tuscan gastronomic tradition. And that the whole world envies us…

San Gimignano is famous for its Vernaccia D.O.C.G. the first Italian wine to have received the DOC denomination. It is a full-bodied and dry white wine produced from the ancient variety of Vernaccia grape, cultivated on the sandstone hills of the area, to whom wine tasting is dedicated.

In addition to Vernaccia DOCG, the wines produced in San Gimignano are San Gimignano Rosso DOC, and IGT Toscana.

San Gimignano cuisine is also appreciated for other typical products:

  • the fragrant extra virgin olive oil (whose most famous varieties are Leccino, Moraiolo and Frantoiano)
  • meats such as “finocchiona”, “soppressata” and “prosciutto d’oro”
  • truffles, which you can unearth by experiencing the excitement during a real truffle hunt with dog and equipment
  • the noble saffron… A very ancient product with a protected designation of origin.
    We recommend you: mascarpone, saffron and artichoke risotto; wild boar or rabbit with Vernaccia; pork with saffron; saffron sponge cake zuccotto.


🍝 Dive into the flavours of San Gimignano!


Events, festivals and fairs in San Gimignano
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And finally you can enjoy events, festivals and fairs in San Gimignano.


Among the most famous:

  • The Festival of Santa Fina
  • The Carnival of San Gimignano
  • “Accade d’Estate” (shows and events in Piazza Duomo and the Parco della Rocca)
  • San Gimignano Musica: opera, instrumental and baroque music concert
  • Ferie delle Messi: historical event with a medieval theme



How to get to San Gimignano
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tuscany italy san gimignano
Pixabay, Ben_Kerckx


By train

There is no station in San Gimignano, so you need to get to the Poggibonsi train station and from there take a bus to the village.
Buses leave every 30-40 minutes.

To get to Poggibonsi by train

  • from the north:

Line: Milan-Bologna-Florence
– Florence-Empoli
– Empoli-Siena (get off at Poggibonsi / San Gimignano station)
– Bus to San Gimignano

Line: Genoa-Pisa

– Pisa-Empoli
– Empoli-Siena (get off at Poggibonsi / San Gimignano station)
– Bus to San Gimignano

  • from the south

Line: Rome-Florence (change at Chiusi / Chianciano Terme)

– Chiusi / Chianciano Terme-Siena
– Siena-Empoli (get off at Poggibonsi / San Gimignano)
– Bus to San Gimignano

Line: Rome-Pisa

– Pisa-Empoli
– Empoli-Siena (get off at Poggibonsi / San Gimignano station)
– Bus to San Gimignano


By Car

From the North (Milan)
– Take the A1 motorway in the direction of Milan-Rome South
– exit at Firenze Impruneta
– Firenze-Siena – Direction Siena
– Exit at Poggibonsi Nord
– Follow the signs for San Gimignano.

From the South (Rome)
– Take the A1 Milano-Roma motorway northbound
– exit at Valdichiana
– follow signs for Siena
– exit at Poggibonsi Nord
– follow the signs for San Gimignano.

Now that you know the best things to do in San Gimignano and its surroundings, all you have to do is to prepare your suitcase and live the dream of a holiday in the wonderful Tuscany!


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