San Gimignano is a popular hill town in Tuscany, known for its 14 surviving medieval towers. Rising above the town, the towers create a notable skyline that can be seen as you approach.
The small town of San Gimignano once had 72 towers, built by rich families in the middle ages. Torre Grossa, the tallest of the surviving towers, was built in 1298 and is 177 feet tall. Climb the stone staircase to the top for countryside views. Palazza del Podesta, the ancient town hall, sports another of the tallest towers, Torre della Rognosa.
La Collegiata, the duomo or cathedral, is in Piazza del Duomo where there are 7 towers. Built in the 11th century, La Collegiata’s walls and ceilings are covered with 14th century frescoes. Sant’Agostino, a small 13th century church, is also worth visiting for its frescoes.
Piazza Cisterna has an ancient well in its center and there’s an award-winning gelato shop on the square. For those who prefer wine, there are several places in town to taste Vernaccia, the white wine produced in the area. There are plenty of good places to eat in town, too.
San Gimignano’s museums include: The Palazzo del Popolo Civic Museum with art works and frescoes. The Archaeology Museum with a good collection of Etruscan artifacts. Religious art works, including 14th century illuminated manuscripts, in the Museum of Sacred Art. And the touristy torture museum.
San Gimignano’s historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Up the hill are the ruins of a 14th century rocca, or fortress, a good spot for views of the towers.
To get to San Gimignano from Siena or Florence, take the train or a bus to Poggibonsi. From the train station it’s a 20 minute bus ride to the center of town. Traffic is restricted in the center but there are parking lots around the outside.