San Gimignano one day itinerary
San Gimignano is absolutely a must-visit destination for travelers in Tuscany. The so-called “Medieval Manhattan” captivates all who explore its medieval skyline. There’s an array of captivating activities to engage in while there. We visited San Gimignano during our 1-week road trip in Tuscany and we curated the San Gimignano one-day itinerary travel guide for you to get everything this medieval town has to offer.
Stepping into its cobbled stone alleys transports you through time, allowing for a glimpse into historical landmarks and offering stunning perspectives from the city’s lofty towers. Indulge in what could be considered the finest ice cream globally or savor the exquisite wines originating from the Chianti region.
Embark on an unforgettable journey through San Gimignano’s rich history and breathtaking vistas.
How to get to San Gimignano
Public Transport to San Gimignano
San Gimignano lacks train stations, necessitating reliance on bus transportation if using public transit. From Florence, take bus 131 to Poggibonsi (with a travel duration of approximately 50 minutes). Upon reaching Poggibonsi, switch to bus 130 heading to San Gimignano (with a travel duration between 20 to 30 minutes).
If traveling from Siena, opt for bus 130A directed to Poggibonsi. Some buses proceed to San Gimignano, while in other cases, a transfer to a different bus might be required.
Car to San Gimignano
From Siena: 41 km, 45 minutes
From Florence: 60 km, 1.25 hours
From Volterra: 30 km, 40 minutes
From Pisa: 78 km, 1.5 hours
From Lucca: 90 km, 1.5 hours
What to do in San Gimignano
Quick Facts about San Gimignano
- Towers symbolized wealth
- San Gimignano once had more than seventy towers (72)
- Today only 14 towers remain
- The Towers were given different names
- The Black Plague significantly devastated the city
- San Gimignano underwent name alterations
- The town served as a rest stop for pilgrims
- San Gimignano earned UNESCO World Heritage status in 1990
- San Gimignano became independent in 1199
Climb the Torre Grossa
Climbing Torre Grossa offers an unmissable experience. It stands as the tallest surviving medieval tower in San Gimignano, providing awe-inspiring panoramic vistas of the town and the Tuscan countryside. There are 218 steps to the top of the tower. Some are steep, and you have to watch your head sometimes. However, the unparalleled views of the rolling hills and vineyards make it worthwhile. Capture breathtaking photos showcasing the town and the picturesque Tuscan landscape while being immersed in the medieval allure and beauty that characterizes this captivating location. Delve into the tower’s historical and architectural significance through informative exhibits, making it a must-see for history enthusiasts. Standing atop this medieval tower, you’ll thrill at the sight of the town’s iconic skyline.
We were so captivated by the landscape that we spent a considerable amount of time observing and delighting in the sight of birds gracefully flying among the ancient towers.
Opening Hours And Ticket Price
Torre Grossa welcomes visitors daily between 10 am and 7:30 pm from April to October 31st. During the off-peak season (November to the end of March), its opening hours are from 11 am to 5:30 pm.
Admission is €5 and is included with the combo ticket for the Museo Civico.
Exploring the town’s Civic Museum is essential. The Civic Museum (also known as the Municipal Art Gallery) features two prominent rooms: the Sala Di Dante and the Camera del Podesta.
The Sala Di Dante, named in honor of poet Dante Alighieri’s visit to San Gimignano, stands as the museum’s most famous space. Among various court wall paintings within this room, the focal point is a depiction of the Virgin Mary—an acclaimed fresco called Maestà, believed to be crafted by the Sienese artist Lippo Memmi. Another noteworthy area is the Room of the Mayor, or Camera del Podesta, as referred to by locals. This room showcases wall paintings portraying Scenes of Married Life, providing educational insight with its realistic depictions of love stories.
You can check the opening hours and the ticket prices on the official website.
Piazza della Cisterna
Piazza della Cisterna is the heart of San Gimignano. Known as Piazza della Cisterna, this square earned its name due to its construction around an ancient water well. The structure, which looks like a pretty stone fountain, is, in fact, the opening to an underground cistern from the 13th century. The locals later added a platform in the early 14th century.
In the past, this square served as the focal point for various public events, tournaments, and city festivals. It also acted as a gathering point for pilgrims a millennium ago. Presently, markets still thrive here on Thursdays and Saturdays. Noteworthy historic buildings, including Palazzo Tortoli and Casa del Podestà, once housed the town’s influential families.
Good to know
The clear pathway creates a connection between Cistern Square and Piazza del Duomo, which happens to be the largest square in the town. Also situated at the southwest corner is the remarkable ancient city gate recognized as the Arc of Becci.
Piazza del Erbe
Conveniently located just around the corner from Piazza del Duomo, is Piazza del Erbe. Among the various charming squares embellishing San Gimignano’s historic center, Piazza del Erbe stands out. This tranquil square features a café terrace and tends to be quieter compared to the town’s other bustling squares. Its name originates from the weekly market (erbe means herbs in Italian) that occurs there.
Good to know
If you visit the Piazza del Erbe on Saturday you can buy fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices from local traders.
If you visit the square on a Thursday, you have the opportunity to buy a wide range of items, spanning from clothing to antiques.
The Duomo or Santa Maria Assunta
Also known as Collegiata di Santa Maria Assunta, it is a Roman Catholic collegiate church and one of the most fascinating places to visit in San Gimignano. The interior of the Church of Santa Maria Assunta boasts one of Tuscany’s most adorned church interiors. Many call it the Duomo, but this church is not a cathedral. It is located on Piazza del Duomo and its construction traces back to 1148. Adorned with black and white marble, it bears a resemblance to the interiors of the Siena Cathedral and Orvieto Cathedral, albeit on a smaller scale.
Artworks by notable artists like Taddeo di Bartolo, Domenico Ghirlandaio, and Lippo Memmi embellish this church. Known for its frescoes portraying narratives from the Old Testament cycle, the Last Judgement, and the Annunciation, this church boasts an exquisite interior.
Opening Hours And Ticket Price
1st April – 31st October: Monday to Friday 10 am – 7.30 pm, Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 12.30 pm – 7.30 pm
1st November – 31st March: Monday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm, Sunday 12.30 pm until 5 pm,
with closures on specific dates: January 15th to 31st, March 12th, November 15th to 30th, December 25th, and January 1st.
Admission is typically around €3
San Gimignano 1300
Experience San Gimignano 1300 for an exclusive glimpse into the town’s history through a meticulously crafted miniature model showcasing its appearance in 1300. The museum offers intricate details providing insights into the town’s structure, architecture, and daily life during that era, accompanied by a captivating collection of miniature artifacts and figurines.
Engage in time-travel by participating in medieval games, solving puzzles, and seizing the chance to dress up in historical costumes for memorable photos. Uncover the medieval garden and a miniature rendition of the town’s iconic towers. This interactive experience breathes life into history, catering to both children and adults.
Opening Hours And Ticket Price
San Gimignano 1300 is open: January and February: daily from 10:00 – 17:00, May – November: daily from 10:00 – 18:00
Admission to the San Gimignano 1300 is free.
Palazzo del Popolo
A primary attraction that draws most tourists is the San Gimignano town hall. Positioned adjacent to the Santa Maria Assunta, this striking building is too magnificent to overlook.
Known locally as Palazzo del Pópolo or Palazzo Comunale, this town hall was initially constructed in the 13th century and later expanded. It holds significant prominence in San Gimignano’s history as the former seat of government.
It houses both the Civic Museum that we mentioned before and the Pinacoteca, both of which hold considerable value.
Pinacoteca holds masterpieces from both the Sienese and Florentine schools. A notable highlight is the altar piece crafted by Pinturicchio in 1511. In the courtyard outside, visitors can view frescoes displaying coats of arms and a mural painted by Sodoma.
Church of San Lorenzo al Ponte
San Lorenzo al Ponte church stands out as a lesser-known treasure in San Gimignano, a sight that may elude many visitors. While the historic center boasts several stunning churches and monasteries, this particular church, dating back to 1240, holds distinct significance as one of the city’s oldest. A visit to the church’s interior is highly recommended, showcasing exquisite frescoes created by the Florentine artist Cenni di Francesco di ser Cenni.
Torri dei Salvucci
If open, Torri dei Salvucci stands among the top attractions in San Gimignano. This tower not only serves as a residence for rent but also offers a distinctive lodging experience in the town.
When not rented out, visitors can explore this tower for a small fee, ascending to the summit for yet another breathtaking panorama of San Gimignano. It’s notably shorter than Torre Grossa, providing easier access to an alternative viewpoint of the town.
Explore La Rocca di Montestaffoli
The Rocca di Montestaffoli, a medieval fortress with a vantage point over San Gimignano, rewards hikers with remarkable panoramic vistas. Despite requiring a bit of effort to reach, the view encompasses the town’s famous towers, the picturesque countryside, and the distant Chianti hills, making it an ideal location for a leisurely picnic amidst the Tuscan landscape.
Vernaccia Wine Tasting
San Gimignano is known for its Vernaccia wine, a refreshing white wine produced in the area. Visiting one of the numerous nearby wineries offers the chance to partake in wine tastings. Many wineries provide guided tours of their vineyards and cellars, allowing guests to appreciate the local wine and gain insights into the winemaking process.
During these tastings, you’ll encounter various vintages of Vernaccia, each with its unique qualities. Expert sommeliers will lead the tasting, offering knowledge about the wine’s history and production. Additionally, the opportunity to pair these wines with local cheeses and snacks elevates the tasting experience.
Fattoria Poggio Alloro
Fattoria Poggio Alloro, an operational organic farm situated just outside San Gimignano, invites visitors to partake in a range of engaging activities. Delight in experiences like olive oil and wine tastings, cooking classes, and guided farm tours, providing an immersive journey into the Tuscan landscape and authentic farm-to-table encounters.
This picturesque organic farm and agriturismo offer an array of enjoyable pursuits suitable for guests of all ages. Wander through the extensive vineyards and olive groves during guided tours, gaining insights into sustainable farming methods. Engage with the amiable farm animals during their daily routines or opt for horseback rides amidst the charming countryside. For a hands-on encounter, explore pizza making or pasta cooking classes using fresh farm ingredients.
What to eat and where
Agriturismo Taverna di Bibbiano boasts a captivating view of San Gimignano, offering outdoor seating overlooking a lavender field on the hillside. Their menu changes regularly, featuring dishes crafted from fresh farm ingredients in accordance with seasonal availability.
Osteria della Catene offers substantial meals that exemplify the local cuisine, providing excellent value for money.
La Mandragola is a hidden gem that specializes in Tuscan dishes crafted from fresh, local ingredients.
Located in the heart of San Gimignano, La Bottega del Nobile offers an exceptional wine and dining experience. This restaurant specializes in traditional Tuscan cuisine and features an extensive wine list with an emphasis on local Vernaccia wines.
Gelateria Dondoli is a must-visit for dessert. With an array of flavors that change seasonally, you’ll find unique and delicious gelato options that are perfect for a post-meal treat.
Where to Stay
Overlooking Piazza della Cisterna, the historic Hotel La Cisterna provides a central location and charming, well-appointed rooms. It’s a fantastic choice for those who want to be in the heart of the action.
Address: Piazza Della Cisterna, 23, 53037 San Gimignano SI, Italy
Situated just outside the town walls, Relais Santa Chiara Hotel offers stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The hotel features comfortable rooms and a lovely garden with a pool, perfect for relaxation.
Address: Via Giacomo Matteotti, 15, 53037 San Gimignano SI, Italy
If you’re looking for a more rural and peaceful retreat, Le Romite located in the countryside near San Gimignano is the best option. This agriturismo offers comfortable apartments and a beautiful setting with vineyards and olive groves.
Address: Via delle Romite, 31, 53037 San Gimignano SI, Italy
Hotel Bel Soggiorno is a family-run establishment that exudes warmth and hospitality. It’s conveniently located within walking distance of San Gimignano’s historic center and offers comfortable accommodations.
Address: Via Luigi Pirandello, 60, 98039 Taormina ME, Italy
Is San Gimignano worth it?
San Gimignano is a must-visit destination, known for its climbable towers, captivating alleyways, excellent array of shops and dining options, and rich historical landmarks. It stands out as one of the most sought-after Tuscan hill towns to explore.
How much time do you need in San Gimignano?
In just a few hours, you can wander around the old city center, ascend Torre Grossa or Torre Salvucci Maggiore for panoramic views, explore Duomo di San Gimignano, indulge in some shopping, and enjoy a meal.
With additional time at hand, venture beyond the bustling thoroughfares to discover the charming side streets, explore Parco della Rocca, engage in wine tasting, visit San Gimignano 1300, and savor a meal at a different restaurant in town. This extended timeframe allows for a more in-depth exploration and a richer experience of all that San Gimignano has to offer.
Where can i see the best views of San Gimignano?
One of the finest ways to admire San Gimignano and its iconic skyline of towers is from a nearby vantage point. If you have the opportunity, we suggest taking a stroll to Poggibonsi Road, which is just a brief 10-minute walk from the main square. Gazing at San Gimignano from Via Vecchia per Poggibonsi road stands out as a top recommendation for experiencing the town.