About the Tuscan town of San Gimignano, I learned recently. Despite the fact that it is one of the most picturesque and most visited cities of Tuscany by tourists, it is not at the hearing, unlike, for example, Pisa or Siena. But, as soon as you see a photo of this town, I guarantee that you will want to visit it. In the article, based on my experience, I tell you how to visit San Gimignano, what to see and try in the city, and where to stay if you want to spend the night there.
How to get to San Gimignano
Hotels in San Gimignano
Attractions of San Gimignano and a map of the city
Excursions in San Gimignano
Parking and taxi rental in San Gimignano
What to taste in San Gimignano
How to get to San Gimignano
You can get from Italian cities by land.
If you want to rent a car, then check out the article “Car rental in Italy” , where I talk in details about the nuances of renting. You can get directions and find out the cost of toll roads on autostrade.it
How to get from Florence to San Gimignano
Distance Florence – San Gimignano about 39 km. But you can get by public transport only with a change, therefore, the road will take about 1.5-2 hours. In all cases, a transplant is most conveniently done in Poggibonsi (Poggibonsi).
Option 1. Bus + bus.
You can get to Poggibonsi:
- By bus number 131 from the central bus station in Florence (Nord Autostazione). Journey time about 50 minutes, ticket 6.20 € (carrier Tieme Spa )
- Take the flixbus bus (departure time 15:20) from the Villa Costanza stop. The journey takes 30 minutes. Tickets from 5 €, it’s better to buy in advance.
Next, at the station Poggibonsi you need to change to bus number 130, the journey takes 20-25 minutes, the ticket price is 2.60 €. Tickets can be bought at the tobacco bar right of the station exit. There is also a bus stop.
Option 2. Train + bus.
For some reason, the train is closer to me than the bus, so I chose this option. At the central train station in Florence you need to buy a ticket to the station. Poggibonsi-S. Gimignano. The journey takes about 1 hour, the ticket price is 7.80 € (for 2018).
Further, as in the first version, you need to change to bus number 130 (2.60 €).
Option 3. Taxi.
Taxis or transfers are the fastest way to get there. Transfer fee Florence – San Gimignano from 108 €. You can order in advance through the international service kiwitaxi.com . My review of the service you can read here .
How to get to San Gimignano from Pisa
Taking a picture with the leaning tower and looking at other sights of Pisa , you can go to San Gimignano.
Option 1. Train + train + bus
At Pisa Centrale station, you need to catch a train to st. Empoli, and there to make a transfer to the train to the station. Poggibonsi – S. Gimignano. Next use bus number 130
Option 2. Bus + bus .
From Pisa to Poggibonsi once a day there is a flixbus , on the way 1:50, from 10 €. Further by bus for 2.60 € This option seems to me simpler if the departure time is suitable (14:00 from Pisa, at 7:40 in the morning from Poggibonsi).
Option 3. Transfer
Transfer Pisa San Gimignano from 175 € per car. Pick up a transfer >>>
To San Gimignano from Siena
Option 1. Bus.
In this case, it is somewhat simpler, it is possible to get non-stop all on the same bus number 130. Several flights per day, en route 1: 10-1: 20, ticket 6.20 €. In Siena, the stop is on Via Tozzi. Nearby should be a bar where you can buy tickets.
In San Gimignano, buy a bus ticket at the tourist office located in the center next to the Duomo. Stop on the right side of the exit from the central gate (if you stand with your back to the gate).
If you go to Siena, then the bus makes stops in the city. If you know your stop, then you can get out before reaching the final one.
Option 2. Train + bus
Train from Siena to Poggibonsi (30 minutes, 3.60 €), then bus number 130 to San Gimignano.
Option 3. Transfer.
You can order through getyourguide.com at a price of 110 €. Payment online, the voucher will come by email.
Hotels in San Gimignano
If you stay in San Gimignano at night, then choose a hotel in the city center (within the city wall). So you can walk around the city until the evening, sit in cafes, enjoy the silence and empty streets, after all the “one-day” tourists leave the city.
To select a hotel in the historical center, use the “sorting” tool in the booking and sort the options by distance to the center:
- hotels up to 500m from the center will be in the historical center
- hotels up to 1km will be near the historical center, but outside the city wall
- more than 1 km hotels will be in the chic Tuscan countryside, but getting to San Gimignano without a car will be difficult. Such hotels are worth choosing if you want to plunge into the Tuscan outback, live there for a week, and inspect the surroundings by car.
Most hotels and apartments in the city have a rating of more than 8 points, they are actually very nice and cozy there, so just choose based on your financial capabilities. Book as early as possible. I booked in less than a week, in the end, I had to live alone in a triple room with the corresponding price.
A la Casa dei Potenti (8.3) – the guest house I stayed in, it is located in the very center, next to the Duomo. Cozy, traditional rooms with antique furniture and at the same time a modern and clean bathroom. At the reception a Russian-speaking employee. You can order breakfast for 8 €, breakfast in a cafe (hot sandwich and cappuccino) costs 6 €, therefore, the choice is yours. Price from 51 € per night for a double room.
You may also like the following places of residence:
Al Pozzo dei Desideri (9.1) is an excellently rated guest house located in a 12th-century building on the main square – Piazza della Cisterna. The windows overlook either the city center or the Tuscan countryside (you will be happy anyway :)). From 77 € for a double room.
Hotel La Cisterna (8.8) – three-star hotel on the square of the same name. As in the previous version, the view is either on the square or on the countryside. The hotel has a restaurant where you can have dinner, and breakfast is also served there. The rooms are decorated in a classic Florentine style. From 78 € with breakfast for a double room.
Guest house Edera (8.8) is the most budget accommodation option in San Gimignano, located 700m from the center (about 100 meters from the main city gate). From 40 € per night for two
Agriturismo near San Gimignano
For those who want to live in rural Italian areas, agriturismo is suitable (these are the so-called farms, or rural houses with their own farm – vineyards, olive groves, an animal farm, the owners, as a rule, are engaged in the production of wine / butter / cheese). Here are a few options:
Agriturismo Macinatico (9.4) – Agriturismo in a picturesque location among Tuscan landscapes. On the one hand, everything is decorated in a traditional rural style, and on the other, all the equipment is modern. Suitable for family or company. Two-bedroom apartments – from 290 € per night.
Agriturismo Raccianello (8.6) – 4 km from San Gimignano in a picturesque area, like all other hotels and farms in the region. This agriturismo has a swimming pool. From 104 € for apartments for 4 people.
La Tenuta di Castelvecchio (9.2) – a complex 3.6 km from San Gimignano, located among vineyards and an olive garden. Classic farmhouse with a garden and a restaurant, a swimming pool. All rooms have a private bathroom. Double room – from 100 € with breakfast.
San Gimignano Attractions and City Map
A bit of history. San Gimignano is a small medieval town founded in the 3rd century BC. Etruscans, like a small village. After the decline of Etruscan power and the arrival of the Romans, the village gradually turns into a city, and in the 10th century it receives the name in honor of Bishop Geminian – San Gimignano.
The growth of the city in the Middle Ages was due to its location – on the most important trade and pilgrimage route – Franks Road. It is interesting that at that time (12th century) the population of the city exceeded the present by 2 times and amounted to about 15 thousand people. The plague of the 14th, 15th, 17th centuries, constant wars gradually led the city to decline. At the end of the 20th century, the flow of tourists to the city increased, after in 1990 the city was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.
San Gimignano map with landmarks
All of the following attractions I marked on the map
You can also download the jpeg map, upload it to your smartphone or print (open the image in a new window and save)
What to see in San Gimignano: attractions
- Towers of San Gimignano. The 11th-13th centuries were the time of economic prosperity of the city, then the towers of San Gimignano were built: the most distinguished families, one might say, competed among themselves, showed their social significance. So, 70-76 towers were built (according to various sources). Only 14 have survived to date, however, they are today the hallmark of the city, and the city itself is sometimes even called the “city of 100 towers”. Surprisingly, some towers reach a height of 50 meters.
- Cisterna Square (Piazza della Cisterna) is considered the central square of the city. A triangular square, in the center of which there is a picturesque well connected to an underground tank (hence the name). In the Middle Ages, the square served as a market square; various festivals and tournaments were also held here. Today, the square has many hotels, guest houses, cafes and bars.
- Cathedral Square (Piazza del Duomo) is the second main square. If Cisterna Square was considered the center of social life, then the Duomo Square was considered the center of religious life. In the center of the square is the Duomo, the Cathedral of San Gimignano (or the Collegiate di Santa Maria Assuita), built in the 10th century and known for the frescoes of D. Ghirlandaio, B. Gozzoli, Tadeo di Bartolo, A. Memmy, Bartolo di Fredi. The church is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Other significant buildings on the Duomo Square: Palazzo Vecchio del Podesta (Old Palace of Podesta, from 1358 – a hotel, from 1537 – a theater), located opposite the Duomo; Palazzo Comunale (13-14th century), or the New Palace of Podesta, today it houses the municipality and the art gallery.
Buy a ticket online:
Entrance to the Cathedral is paid, costs about 6 euros, another about 5 euros is the entrance to the Museum of Sacred Art. You can buy a ticket on the spot or in advance online (you do not need to print a ticket, you can show it on your smartphone)
There are also 4 famous towers in the square: the Salvonchi tower (Torre dei Salvucci), the Rognosa tower (clock tower or Podesta tower), and next to the Palazzo Comunale – the highest tower in the city – the Big Tower (Torre Grossa, 14th century).
Buy ticket online
Torre Grossa is today the only tower that you can visit. The tower overlooks San Gimignano. A visit to the tower is paid – to visit you need a comprehensive ticket to the city museums worth 9 € full and 7 € reduced or San Gimignano Pass (13 € and 10 €). Watch the tower’s opening hours on the official website http://www.sangimignano.com/en/information/opening-times-tickets.asp.
You can buy a ticket on the spot or online .
The tourist office is also located on Cathedral Square, in the travel office you can get the necessary information, get a card, buy bus tickets.
- Porta San Giovanni- central city gate.
- Museum of Torture (Museo della Tortura) – one of the most popular museums in the city. The exposition presents torture tools from the time of the Inquisition. According to reviews, this is a “place for people with steel nerves and a strong psyche.” In San Gimignano there are several muyes of torture and the best reviews about this, located near the main gate, at 125 Porta San Giovanni. Entrance to the museum – 10 €. Website http://www.torturemuseum.it/
- City Museum of San Gimignano (Museo San Gimignano1300), the Museum consists of 10 rooms devoted to the history of the city – urban and rural life, culture, art. Also in the museum you can see the city in miniature – an amazing work of masters. Access to the thumbnail is free. Entrance to the museum – 5 €. Details on the website http://www.sangimignano1300.com/eng/programma.html
- Porta San Matteo – North Gate of San Gimignano
- St. Augustine’s Church is located next to the North Gate outside the city wall. Inside you can see the frescoes of the Florentine master Benozzo Gozzoli, dedicated to the life of St. Augustine. Entrance to the church is free.
- The medieval laundry room or the antique reservoir of water (Fonti medieval) is a natural source of water, opened in the 9th century, decorated with Romanesque arches. In the Middle Ages, water was collected for household needs and clothes were washed. From the center go about 10 minutes, you can follow the signs or the navigator. The track is not paved, wear comfortable shoes. I can’t say that the attraction is very interesting right away, you shouldn’t go specifically, but if you have free time, you can take a walk.
- An observation deck on the ruins of the Rocca fortress (Rocca di Montestaffoli) is a free observation deck on the site of the former castle of Bishop Volterra. In the summer, various festivals and holidays are often held here.
- Observation deck at via degli Innocenti, 3 – view of the Tuscan hills surrounding the city’s landscapes. On the site is always crowded, musicians play. A visit is definitely worth it. The site is free, you can find by signs.
- Gelateria Dondoli – gelato store, which is one of the “best culinary attractions of the world” according to Lonely Planet. It is believed that it is here that serves the most delicious ice cream in the world. Gelateria has more than 70 varieties of ice cream, including “local” flavors (sorbet from Vernachcha wine) and unusual experimental flavors (cream with saffron, gogonzola and walnuts, ricotta and blueberries). For me, in Italy, ice cream is tasty everywhere, but the taste of the sorbet Vernaccia di San Gimignano, of course, is special. I am glad that the prices for ice cream are affordable – 2.5 € for 2 tastes. There is a queue to the shop, but employees work quickly, so you won’t have to wait long.
By the way, on the Lonely Planet website it is indicated that for 400 € you can take a gelato master class in this gelateria. A cheaper ice cream workshop is available at getyourguide.com . From 53 € per person, you can learn how to cook pizza and gelato under the guidance of a local chef.
Excursions in San Gimignano
You can book a privete tour to San Gimignano:
Or group tours in English :
- San Gimignano, Siena, Chianti – the most popular towns and attractions for 1 day , 58 € per person.
- Wine tour from Florence : try 7 types of wine and enjoy the Tuscan landscape, visit San Gimignano, from 70 € per person
- In Chianti and San Gimignano from Siena , from 42 €
Being in San Gimignano you can visit such unusual excursions:
- Wine tasting and typical Tuscan snacks with expert sommelier , from 19 €
- Culinary master class on a Tuscan farm with a chef , from 89 €
- Visit to a small family farm with tasting , from 15 €
- Pasta and gelato master class led by a local chef , from 53 €
- Horse riding in rural Tuscany , from 70 €
Car rental, parking and taxi in San Gimignano
It is better to rent a car in a large city – in Florence or Pisa and already come by car to San Gimignano.
However, there are 2 local rentals in San Gimignano (you can also rent a motorcycle, scooter or bicycle in one of them). Here are the contacts indicated in the reference brochure that I was given in the travel office
With a taxi in San Gimignano, too, everything is very interesting, here is a list of taxi drivers (from the same brochure), 3 of them seem to be from the same family :))
As for parking in San Gimignano, they are only outside the city wall. The historic center is located in the Traffico Limitato area and entry is by permission only. If your hotel is in the city center and you need to unload things, contact the property in advance and inform about arrival. In this case, most likely, you will be issued a permit for temporary entry.
Free parking is available near the Coop supermarket, but you can leave the car there only if you go to the store.
There are several free parking lots 900 meters from the entrance (a good option for budget travelers, see the location on the map, highlighted free green). Near the North Gate there is a free parking for several cars.
Paid parking is designated P1, P2, P3.
Parking P2 is located near the main gate, according to reviews, after 9 in the morning it is already problematic to park there. The price is about 2 € per hour.
Parking P1 – about 10-15 minutes walk from the center, a little further than P2. But the price is only 6 € for the whole day.
P3 Parking is a 7-minute walk from San Matteo Gate. The price is unknown to me. Paid parking marked in red.
What to taste in San Gimignano (local cuisine)
San Gimignano’s 3 traditional products are:
- Saffron (in the Middle Ages, saffron production was the main occupation of the city population. Today saffron is produced using modern technologies without the use of “chemistry”)
- White wine Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Vernachcha variety has been cultivated since the 12th century; in the 13th century, wine production has been documented. Vernaccia di San Gimignano is the first wine in Italy to receive DOC status, and since 1993 – DOCG status. This wine goes well with pasta and risotto, fish and white meat.
- Gelato (Italian ice cream) from gelateria Dondoli. Dondoli is one of the most famous manufacturers of gelato in the world, ice cream, according to Lonely Planet, is the most delicious in the world, and celebrities and stars visit gelateria. The price is affordable, and the tastes are very unusual. Of course, I consider the most “local” as the sorbet from the Vernaccia wine. Must try!
In addition to these three products, in San Gimignano you can try the best Tuscan dishes and products: pecorino cheese, truffle, Florentine steak, papa al pomodoro and ribolitta soups and, of course, various types of pasta and pizza!
This is the basic information you will need to visit San Gimignano. If the article seems interesting and useful to you, save it on social networks and share with friends!