San Gimignano is a pretty medieval walled city in Tuscany, Italy, famous for its beautiful towers and great art. It is small enough to be effectively visited as a day trip from nearby cities like Siena and Florence, but it has a different atmosphere at night that many travelers find it worthwhile to experience.
The towers of San Gimignano
The historical town of San Gimignano on the hill has no train station, but you can easily reach San Gimignano by taking a train to Poggibonsi (labelled "Poggibonsi-S.G.") and then a bus from the Poggibonsi train station to San Gimignano. These buses cost €3.60 (2007) each way, leave every 30-40 minutes, and you can inquire for information, schedules, and tickets at the tourist information office which is located ahead toward the right as you walk out of the train station.
If you are going from Florence (Firenze) to Poggibonsi, direct trains are not so frequent but you will find many connections via Empoli.
Easily reachable from Florence or Siena, though you may have to change buses in Poggibonsi. Buses leave from Florence's bus station (next to the train station) hourly, and take 1.25 to 2 hours for €6. From Siena there are €5.20, 75 minute buse rides (5 a day)
Buses depart from Porta San Giovanni, with tickets sold at the bar just inside the gate or at the Tourist Info. Florence buses leave hourly, change in Poggibonsi, and take 1.25-2 hours. Siena buses are 5/day, 75 minutes, and also change in Poggibonsi. Volterra has 4/day that take 2 hours and change in Colle di Val d'Elsa. Sunday buses are fewer and more crowded.
You may also arrive by car. You can't drive inside the town walls, but there are several pay parking lots just outside the town walls, with free places further away. The handiest lot, Parcheggio Montemaggio, outside Porta San Giovanni, fills quickly, but they let 1 car in for every one that leaves, so you can wait (€2/hour). There is free parking on the side of the road going down from the turnabout.
On foot - it's very small, and you must disembark from your car or bus outside the city walls, in any case. An electric shuttlebus goes all day from Porta San Giovanni to Piazza della Cisterna to Porta San Matteo. € 1, 2/hours, buy ticket at Tourist Info or Tabacchi shop
Piazza del Duomo the town church's square, is surrounded by thousand-year-old towers
SanGimignano1300: The visit to the museum is an ideal opportunity to learn about the architectural, social, and historical aspects of the middle Ages in Tuscany. Located in the heart of the city itself, the museum offers a massive reconstruction of the city of San Gimignano dated between the 13th and 14th Century. Open every day. €5 Adults. €3 Children. Audioguides available. Via Berignano n. 23.
The Collegiata, the nearest to a duomo (cathedral) in this small city, is beautiful and contains a splendid series of frescoes on Old and New Testament subjects. €3.50, €5.50 combo ticket includes Religious Art Museum. Open Monday to Friday 9:30-7:30, Saturday 9:30-5:00, Sunday 12:30-5:30
The Pinacoteca Civica (civic painting gallery/museum) in the Palazzo Pubblico is small but has beautiful art inside. €5, price includes Torre Grossa, €2 audioguides, open daily March to October 9:30-7:00, November to February 10:00 to 5:00
Torre Grossa, is the tallest tower in the city at 200 feet. €5, price includes Pinacoteca Civica, same hours as museum.
The town's 14 Towers are all that remain of the original 72, which were owned by the rich who liked to stay safe there when the town was sacked. But then Florence took control of San Gimignano, and most of them were torn down.
Porta San Giovanni is a gate at the southern end of the town's 13th century walls
The church of Sant'Agostino in the northeastern part of the city contains a set of great frescoes on the life of St. Augustine by Benozzo Gozzoli, & friendly, English-speaking friars to tell you about the church. English mass at Sunday at 11:00, open daily 7:00-12:00 & 15:00-19:00, free, but €.50 inserted into a coin box will light up a painting.
The panorama of the countryside from the Rocca (literally, a big rock) in the southwestern part of the city.
The Piazza della Cisterna, a beautiful piazza with an old stone well (no longer used) in the middle. This is where a Thursday market gathers.
Thursday is market day in Piazza del Duomo
Tourist Information is also in the Piazza del Duomo, which is open March to October 9:00-1:00 & 3:00-7:00, November to February 9:00-1:00 & 2:00-6:00. They offer free maps, a room-booking service, bus tickets, a free bag check, & €5, 2 hour audioguides for exteriors only. This is also where a walking tour starts from at 3:00 daily except Sunday, in English & Italian, March-October, for €15
If you want to escape the crowds of tourists, there is a footpath that runs around the outside of town that is peaceful and affords some nice views of the countryside. It doesn't seem to go all the way around town, but it's long enough to work up a good thirst. Look for the signs with an icon of a hiker.
You will notice shops where free wine tastings are offered. If you consider the wines a good value, buy some bottles. You may find the wine expensive.
Trattoria Chiribiri Cheap, homemade pastas and desserts. Open daily 11:00 to 11:00, on Piazza della Madonna, cash only. Telephone: 0577-941-948
La Mangiatoia Wild game served by candlelight. Open Wednesday to Monday 12:30 to 2:30 & 7:30 to 10:00. Closed Tuesday, outdoor seating, near Porta San Matteo at Via Mainardi. Telephone: 0577-941528
La Grotta Ghiotta Soup and sandwiches for there or to go, open daily 12:00 to 10:00, on Via Santo Stefano. Telephone: 0577-942-074
Locanda di Sant'Agostino On a square at Sant'Agostino Church. Cheap & cheery for lunch & dinner daily (closed January). Telephone: 0577-943141
Co-op Supermarket is great for picnic food, open Monday to Saturday 8:30 to 8:00, closed Sunday, at parking lot below Porto San Giovanni
Casa di Giovanna,  Located on the main street, 100 metres from the main gate of the town. Double ensuite with breakfast - €72.
Hotel la Cisterna On Piazza della Cisterna, with 49 rooms, some with panoramic views from the terraces. Single w/bathroom €70, Double w/bathroom €98, Double w/bathroom & terrace €122. Buffet breakfast, elevator, restaurant with great view, discounts off season, closed January & February. Telephone: 0577-940-328
Ponte a Nappo Run by Carla Rossi, who doesn't speak English, but her son does, has comfortable rooms in a farm outside town. Double w/bathroom €70, apartments for 2-6 people €90-€180, breakfast €8. Air-conditioning, parking, 15 minute walk or 5 minute drive from Porto San Giovanni, on Via Vecchia. Telephone: 0577-955-041 or Mobile: 349-882-1565
Palazzo al Torrione Inside Porta San Giovanni, is quiet & handy, with 10 rooms but no full-time reception. Double w/bathroom €70-€110, breakfast €5-€10, family suites, cheap parking, at Via Berignano. Telephone: 0577-940-480 or Mobile: 338-938-1656
In-town Rossi Apartments Owned by same family as Ponte a Nappo, in town center. Double w/bathroom €55, fancier double w/bathroom overlooking town square €85. Same contact info as Ponte a Nappo farm
Locanda il Pino Clean, quiet, & small with only 5 rooms, is run by a family over their restaurant inside Porta San Matteo. Double w/bathroom €55, no breakfast, parking right by gate on via Cellolese, far from bus stop, but fine if you have a car. Telephone: 0577-940-415
Relais Santa Chiara Hotel (Relais Santa Chiara), Via Matteotti 15 (400 meters from the historic centre), ☎ +39 0577 940701, . checkin: noon; checkout: noon. On a hill just below the city walls. Set in private grounds with garden and swimming pool.€110-270. (N43° 28' 05,E11° 02' 30)
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