San Gimignano: What to Visit

Borgo di San Gimignano

San Gimignano, a medieval jewel in the province of Siena, is a beautifully preserved town recognized by UNESCO for its historic center. Rising on a hill in the Val d'Elsa, this enchanting place offers breathtaking views punctuated by its famous medieval towers, symbols of the power of wealthy families of the past. Inside, the cathedral and the Palazzo del Popolo tell stories of art and power. The local cuisine, rich in saffron and Vernaccia wine, adds flavor to the exploration of this town and its surroundings, rich in history, nature and ancient villages such as Volterra and Populonia. San Gimignano, with its cultural events and markets, promises an unforgettable trip to the most authentic Tuscany.

If you want to breathe in the air of the past while strolling on streets that take you back in time, San Gimignano is definitely for you.

A bit of History

First of all, you should know well what we’re talking about and, of course, where San Gimignano is located. Well, know that this small medieval village is in the province of Siena and is situated on a hill in the Val d’Elsa with a town center 324 m above sea level. It seems to have arisen from an Etruscan people and fortunately the ancient village is perfectly preserved to the point that its historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Getting there is not at all difficult and there are really many places to visit, also in its surroundings.

What mainly strikes is the view as you approach the town because the 13 towers out of the initial 72 built in the Middle Ages for each wealthy family stand out.

San Gimignano : What to visit in the City Center

First of all, as soon as you enter the town, you will come across the Torture Museum. Despite the name being quite grim, it’s not a place to miss. The museum is divided into two small museums that show photos and original torture tools, as well as the theme of the death penalty.

At this point you can continue in the Old Town visiting the cathedral of San Gimignano,  dating back to the 12th century. Quite a while, right? Fortunately, however, time has not ruined the masterpieces that it preserves inside, signed with great names like Benozzo Gozzoli and Taddeo Bartoli.

The most beautiful construction are the Palazzo del Popolo and the Loggia of the Municipality that once  housed the rulers of the city. Appearently the last was built after the expropriation of the possessions of the Chief of the Ghibellines.

After these spots you may a well start a tour that, all in one breath, will lead you to discover small and large works of art. For exemple those perfectly preserved in the church of Sant’Agostino, or the Rocca di Montestaffoli, up to Piazza della Cisterna with its charming octagonal well located right in its center.

San Gimignano’s Cusine

A characteristic of San Gimignano’s cusine is the use of saffron and the famous vernaccia wine. Indeed,  these two products are typical products and both go perfectly with numerous traditional dishes. Moreover,  you can enjoy croutons with livers and then continue with cold cuts and pecorino cheese. First courses, furthermore, are  based on wild boar “sugo”.

San Gimignano: what to visit in the surroundings

After you’ve had a good feast of culture, antiquity and excellent food,you should  be visiting the surroundings of San Gimignano. That will mean being able to admire splendid views that will simply leave you breathless.

Indeed, heading towards the village of Ulignano you can venture into small secondary streets . On the opposite side, towards Volterra, the Etruscan presence will once again be predominant. Volterra is in fact surrounded by high walls inside which is one of the oldest gates in the world. The gate is a tourist destination that attracts many tourists considering that it dates back to the distant 4th century B.C.E.

Furthermore , if you want a seaside view, you can’t miss Populonia. The place is really very nice and unique, with its panoramic view and all its Etruscan constructions.

Important Events

The municipality of San Gimignano has about 7,700 inhabitants. These people organize events and annual meetings that have various main subjects. In fact, from food to art, from natural products to opera or instrumental music, you’ll find events for every taste.

All this, of course, is organized at various times of the year and you, in order to avoid half-trips, could plan a stay in San Gimignano precisely in conjunction with the event that interests you most or represents you. On the pro-loco website, you can follow step by step all types of scheduled events and therefore get the necessary information about the places, times, and organizers.

Ah, don’t forget, equally important, to visit the weekly market that on Thursday offers products of various kinds, both food and clothing and objects, while on Saturday you can find an assortment of local fruits and vegetables that will help you get to know what nature gives to this wonderful land immersed in the heart of Tuscany.