What to see and where to eat in San Gimignano
Restaurants, museums, squares, churches: everything you mustn't miss in San Gimignano
Located about an hour's drive from Florence, San Gimignano is one of the most beautiful villages in Tuscany. The historic centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1990 and is also known as the Manhattan of the Middle Ages, since it once had as many as 65 medieval towers. It is a town to discover, with culture, art and food and wine!
WHAT TO SEE IN SAN GIMIGNANO:
Piazza Duomo and Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta
The cathedral of San Gimignano, Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta, is located in the centre of the town at the top of a flight of steps overlooking Piazza Duomo. Built in the Romanesque style, the church dates back as far as the 10th century, but what we see is an enlarged version restored after the Second World War. On the outside, the façade is bare, but inside we find rich frescoes covering the vaulted ceiling and the walls of the three naves, mainly painted by the brothers Lippo and Federico Memmi and Bartolo di Fredi. The great protagonist of the Duomo is the Chapel of Santa Fina, located on the wall of the Duomo and frescoed by Ghirlandaio.
Palazzo del Podestà and Torre Rognosa
Located in Piazza Duomo, the Palazzo Vecchio del Podestà was first built back in the 12th century as the residence of the Podestà. In 1300 it lost this function, due to the construction of the Palazzo Nuovo del Podestà, or Palazzo Comunale. The tower above it, Torre Rognosa, also known as Torre dell'Orologio, is particularly eye-catching. It is 51 m high and well preserved.
Also in Piazza Duomo is the Palazzo Comunale, or Palazzo Nuovo del Podestà. A place of fundamental importance that houses the "historic" headquarters of the San Gimignano Civic Museums. Inside you can admire splendid cycles of frescoes, including hunting and tournament scenes dedicated to Charles of Anjou and the Majesty of Lippo Memmi. The Palazzo also houses the town's Picture Gallery and the Torre Grossa, from the top of which you can admire an unmissable panorama.
Piazza della Cisterna
The most famous square in the village. It takes its name from the well located in the centre, which is octagonal in shape and was built at the behest of the Podestà Guccio dei Malavolti. If Piazza del Duomo is the political and religious centre, Piazza della Cisterna has always been the "commercial" square because here there were many shops and the market and jousts were held. Today there are several establishments, including the nationally renowned and award-winning Gelateria Dondoli!
Church of Sant'Agostino
A small treasure trove of works of art. Inside are masterpieces of sculpture and painting dating from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The Chapel of San Bartolo is beautiful, with its altar by Benedetto da Maiano, and if you look down you will find the majolica floor by Andrea della Robbia. Don't miss the two masterpieces of the church, the Coronation of Mary by Pollaiolo and the Stories from the Life of Saint Augustine, a cycle of frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli.
Fortress of Montestaffoli
Not much remains of the ancient fortress, but it is worth the effort to get up here to enjoy the beautiful panorama. The only remaining turret of a complex defence system allows you to enjoy a privileged view of the entire panorama. Today it is the perfect place for cultural events and festivals, in particular the Giostra dei Bastoni, which takes place on the third weekend in June.
Just outside the walls of the centre are public fountains consisting of 10 stone arches, from which the large basins can be admired. The central ones are the oldest, dating from around the 12th century, while those on the right date from the 13th century.
Church of San Lorenzo in Ponte
Built in the 13th century in Romanesque style, probably over an earlier church, it is best known for its fresco of the Madonna and Child in Glory.
The Contemporary Soul of San Gimignano: founded in 1990, today it is a world excellence of Italian contemporary art. It is currently hosting "Galleria Continua. The Ability to Dream" which retraces over thirty years of activity through the images, memories and voices of some of the protagonists of this incredible adventure.
From San Gimignano you can also reach Siena (about 45 minutes by car), Greve in Chianti (about 50 minutes by car), Panzano in Chianti (about 40 minutes by car), Gaiole in Chianti (about one hour by car), Volterra (about 40 minutes by car) and Monteriggioni (about 30 minutes by car).
WHERE TO EAT IN SAN GIMIGNANO AND SURROUNDINGS:
Before discovering the best restaurants in San Gimignano, click here if you want to know our selection of restaurants around Florence and here for that of the most beautiful wineries where to eat in Tuscany.
La Vecchia Nicchia
Via S. Martino, 12
ph. +39 0577 57317
A small, cosy wine bar in the heart of the village, a stone's throw from Piazza Sant'Agostino. It is the perfect place to savour the most genuine flavours of the area, from chopping boards of cold meats and cheeses to brusche and seasonal soups, accompanied by a rich selection of local wines.
Via Diacceto, 23
ph. +39 0577 940377
A garden set among the medieval towers of San Gimignano that will allow you to immerse yourself in history, surrounded by the flavours and scents that only Tuscany can offer. They prepare bronze-drawn pasta, select the best Cinta Senese cured meats and serve Bistecca alla Fiorentina, strictly of the Chianina breed, cut high and cooked as tradition dictates. In the kitchen, they have been working with the utmost respect for the raw materials for generations and choose products from a short supply chain, mainly from small local producers, with great attention to healthy and organic food.
Via Mainardi, 5
ph. +39 0577 941094
For more than 40 years the restaurant La Mangiatoia has been offering its customers excellent Tuscan cuisine with variations on the theme and reworked by Susi first, and her daughter Giulia now, using only local and genuine products, devoting great care and attention to the presentation of the dishes. All the pasta is strictly homemade. From the pappardelle with wild boar sauce to the carbonara with truffles, passing by the venison fillet with vinsanto and porcini mushrooms and the grilled lamb chops, each dish is an authentic dive into the most delicious Tuscan tradition.
Piazza Della Cisterna, 4
ph. +39 0577 942244
Located in the very central Piazza della Cisterna, Gelateria Dondoli is known all over the world. In fact, it is mentioned in the world's most important guides thanks to the experience and willingness to experiment of Master Gelato Maker Sergio, who has created original and unusual flavours. His first creations have now become famous: Crema di Santa Fina® (saffron and pine nut cream), Champelmo® (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), Dolceamaro® (herb cream), Vernaccia Sorbet, enrich his already vast menu.
HOW TO GET TO SAN GIMIGNANO FROM FLORENCE
From Florence, by car via the Florence-Siena motorway junction (59 km, 1 h 10 min) or by bus line 131 to Poggibonsi, then bus line 133 (2 h).
HOW TO GET TO SAN GIMIGNANO FROM SIENA
From Siena, by car via Raccordo Autostradale Firenze-Siena (40 km, 45 min) or by bus line 130 (1 h 5 min).