Home cities of art 10 things to do and see in San Gimignano

10 things to do and see in San Gimignano

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10 things to do and see in San Gimignano

In 1282 the government of San Gimignano promulgated a law in order to tear down old houses only to build more beautiful ones. For this, in a century, San Gimignano would reach its splendour and then decline, which saved her from the radical changes. In the past there were 72 towers (one for each rich family) while today there are only 13. San Gimignano has a kind of tourism hit and run, with groups coming to town, cross it quickly, and then depart. But it is a little jewel that should be discovered slowly, so it’s better to do it during the low season and out of the weekend.

If you are looking for a hotel in San Gimignano, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 130 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com

San Gimignano Cathedral

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People who comes from Florence, Pisa and Siena, and visit the Cathedral of San Gimignano, will not be impressed by it.

San Gimignano Cathedral
San Gimignano Cathedral

The simplicity of the Romanesque façade of the twelfth century, in fact, does not anticipate the inner wonders.
Divided into three naves, the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta preserves some masterpieces on walls. On top of the façade there is the Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by Benozzo Gozzoli while in the central part the extraordinary Last Judgement by Taddeo di Bartolo. Along the right wall there are the Stories of the New Testament, and on the left stories from the Old Testament by Bartolo di Fredi. The transept hides two other treasures: the polychrome wooden crucifix of 1200 and the Chapel of Santa Fina (see point 2)

Where: in the square of the Cathedral
How to get there: by feet in the old town centre
When – Hours:
January 1 to January 15 / February 1 to March 31 / November 1 to November 15 / December 1 to December 31
Monday to Saturday: 10:00 am to 4:40 pm
Sundays and religious holidays: 12:30 to 4:40 pm
April 1 to October 31
Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 7:10 pm
Saturday: 10:00 am to 5:10 pm
Sundays and religious holidays: 12:30 to 7:10 pm
Closed for tourist visits:
16 November to 30 November / January 16 to January 30 / December 25 / January 1/31 January / carnival Sundays / 12 March / first Sunday of August.
Tickets: Church and Chapel of Santa Fina € 3.50

The Chapel of Santa Fina in San Gimignano

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Santa Fina from San Gimignano had not an easy life. After the death of his mother , she decided to pray on a wooden board until death.

The Chapel of Santa Fina in San Gimignano
The Chapel of Santa Fina in San Gimignano

This is the story that you will find in the frescoes of the Ghirlandaio in the homonymous chapel of the cathedral. This scene is located on the right wall, and portrays the saint stretched out, with the two nurses and San Gregorio in heaven who tells her martyrdom: the mouse under the table refers to the fact that Santa Fina died eaten by rats and worms. On the left wall are painted the Funeral of St. Fina and three miracles that happened : the old nurse Beldia was set free from paralysis. The weeping child who touches the feet of the holy regained his sight. The bells of all the towers of San Gimignano were played by the angels, as indicated by the flying angel on the highest tower

Where: see info on point 1

Piazza del Duomo in San Gimignano

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If the Duomo is the religious symbol of San Gimignano, the Palazzo del Popolo represents his civic symbol.

Piazza del Duomo in San Gimignano
Piazza del Duomo in San Gimignano

Together, a few meters from each other, they form the unique architectural group of the Cathedral Square.
The Town Hall (or Podesta) is located on the left of the square, between the Torre Grossa and the Loggia del Comune. The latter housed the government authorities during public ceremonies and was built by expropriating the houses to the family of Ardinghelli of the Ghibellines. The palace now houses the Museo Civico di San Gimignano, that you will find in paragraph 4. In fact this is the Palazzo Nuovo del Podesta, where he moved the city government in 1337. Until then, the mayor lived near old Palace Podesta recognized by the massive “Torre Rognosa” and the beautiful Torre Chigi. On the right of the square there are the two “Towers of the Salvucci” rich Guelph merchants who became rich through usury. The two towers competed with those of Ardinghelli who were just opposite.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet

Civic Museum of San Gimignano

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The Civic Museum of San Gimignano, housed in the Palazzo del Popolo, announces its beauty since the courtyard, with a beautiful tank dated back to 1361 and frescoes by Sodoma (Sant’Ivo that does justice).

Civic Museum of San Gimignano
Civic Museum of San Gimignano

After the staircase, you will enter into the Hall of Dante, so named in honor of the poet who stayed in San Gimignano in 1300 to help the cause of a big Guelph association. The hall is decorated by the wonderful Majesty of Lippo Memmi (1317), inspired by the one painted by Simone Martini in the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena. After the Secret Meetings of the room, from which starts the staircase of the Torre Grossa (exceptional view over the rooftops), you will arrive to the gallery with works by Pinturicchio, Benozzo Gozzoli, Filippino Lippi.

Where: Piazza del Duomo
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours:
1 April to 30 September: 9:30 am to 7:00 pm 1 October to 31 March: 11:00 am to 5:30 pm on December 25 (closed) 1 January: 12:30 to 5:30 pm
Tickets: Full: € 5.00 Reduced: € 4.00

Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano

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Piazza della Cisterna is a must see. It is located on the top of the hill on which the Tuscan town is built, so it’s a good place to rest after the terrible climb!

Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano
Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano

It takes its name from the octagonal well located in the center, and was built by the will of the Podesta Guccio of Malavolti, whose coat of arms (a stair) is carved on the stone. It is certainly the best piazza in San Gimignano and one of the most beautiful in Tuscany. If Piazza del Duomo is the political and religious center, Piazza della Cisterna is the commercial square because here were the workshops and the market and the carousels. Looking toward via Castello there are Tortoli Palace, the Pucci tower, Albergo della Cisterna, the Ridolfi palace, towers and houses of the Becci and Cugnanesi, Pellari Palace and the Palace Ardinghelli with the two Towers. Across the square there is the Devil’s Tower, so called because it is said that the owner, back from a long journey, found the town higher. Who could have done this during his absence? The devil for sure! Don’t miss an ice cream from Gelateria Dondoli, famous and award-winning worldwide.

Where: old town centre
How to get there: by feet

Torture Museum in San Gimignano

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If you want to discover the endless ways men invented to torture other men and you are not easily sensitive, the Torture Museum is a must see
Actually they are two small museums:

Torture Museum in San Gimignano
Torture Museum in San Gimignano

the first, as you enter into the village, exhibits on three floors a full path of methods of torture around the world, with tools, photos and detailed explanations and also some butchered dummy. The other museum is a little bit higher and has as its theme the death penalty. The cost of the ticket (€ 10) is a little bit too much, but you pay for the uniqueness of the path.

Where: Porta San Giovanni, before Piazza della Cisterna
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: every day from 10 am to 7 pm (winter time only Saturday and Sunday
Tickets: € 10.00; reduced € 7.00; groups € 5.00. Valid ticket for free admission to the Museum of the Death Penalty

Sant'Agostino Church in San Gimignano

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Sant’Agostino Church has many jewels to be discovered.
You will visit the beautiful Chapel of San Bartolo with the altar by Benedetto da Maiano.

Sant'Agostino Church in San Gimignano
Sant’Agostino Church in San Gimignano

The vault of the church was decorated with frescoes by Sebastiano Mainardi and depicts the doctors of the Church (Ambrose, Augustine, Jerome and Gregory) while the tiled floor is the work of Andrea della Robbia. The two masterpieces of the church are the Coronation of Maria del Pollaiolo, on the high altar and the Stories of the Life of St. Augustine, frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli which is located in the choir chapel.

Where: Porta San Matteo
How to get there: by feet
When – Hours: November 1 to March 31: 7:00 am to 12:00 pm , 3:00 to 6:00 p.m
April 1 to October 31: 7:00 am to 12:00 pm , 3:00 to 7:00 p.m
Tickets: free entrance

Rocca di Montestaffoli in San Gimignano

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From the Cathedral there is a small road leading to the top of Montestaffoli, built to defend San Gimignano by Siena attacks after the submission to Florence.

Rocca di Montestaffoli in San Gimignano
Rocca di Montestaffoli in San Gimignano

There are few remains of the ancient fortress but it is worth climbing this green space to enjoy breath-taking views of San Gimignano and Valdelsa. The only tower left is the favourite point for enjoying the view. The Montestaffoli fortress is now a place of cultural events and festivals, in particular the Giostra dei Bastoni which takes place in the third weekend of June.

Things to eat in San Gimignano

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Vernaccia and Saffron are the two typical products of San Gimignano, famous all over the world.

Things to eat in San Gimignano
Things to eat in San Gimignano

The Saffron is called the yellow gold, and has repeatedly saved San Gimignano because used as currency to pay off debts incurred during the ancient wars with Siena and Florence.
You can understand the value of this food considering the amount of flowers needed to make just one pound of saffron: 150,000! Vernaccia, white wine, dry and harmonious, is produced in San Gimignano and was particularly appreciated by Dante, Boccaccio, Ludovico il Moro and Lorenzo the Magnificent. Among the typical local dishes, you will find the classic Tuscan crostini with chicken liver, platters of salami and pecorino cheese, pasta with wild boar.

Where to sleep in San Gimignano

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Crowded tourist destination, beloved around the world, San Gimignano welcome people with a good tourist accommodation.

Where to sleep in San Gimignano
Where to sleep in San Gimignano

The rooms in the old town centre are few and expensive, while many more choices come from the agritourism outside the walls and in the Siena countryside. Tuscany is a popular destination especially in spring, autumn and during the holidays, so if you plan to visit the city during this time is better to book in advance. In low and mid-season, however, there are no availability problems. A room in a cottage starts from 50 Euros per night.
If you are looking for a hotel in San Gimignano, we suggest you to choose among those offered by Booking.com. There are about 130 hotels with prices, pictures and comments of guests already stayed there. Go to Booking.com