Trips around San Gimignano
Thanks to its central position in the heart of Tuscany San Gimignano is an ideal starting point to discover the most beautiful and historic places of this region. Below a list of places you should visit during your holidays in San Gimignano.
Famous all over the world for the extraction and the craftsmanship of alabaster. The landscape around Volterra is a mix of rolling green hills, snuggly in place between San Gimignano and the sandy beaches of Tuscany. Plan a day that includes not only the city museums (the Museum Etruscan, the Civic Art Gallery, the Museum of Sacred Art and the Ecomuseum of Alabaster) but also the several historic building such as the Medici Fortress, Renaissance palazzos, and the Duomo.
The medieval village of Certaldo stands out for its striking orange and red-hued walls, along with its towers that peek out from rooftops, getting mixed up with church belltowers. It’s one of the most evocative, striking towns in the Tuscan countryside, known and loved among tourists not only for its architectural and aesthetic particularities, but also for being the birthplace of Giovanni Boccaccio. Between the small restaurants, the picturesque streets and the lovely countryside, do not miss Palazzo Pretorio with the frescos of Benozzo Gozzoli.
Monteriggioni and Siena 42Km
Visit Monteriggioni will take you just a few hours, but it is a must-see before going to Siena. Monteriggioni represents one of the most important walled castles in the territory. It has incredibly preserved an intact structure as if time had never passed on the hill from which it elegantly dominates the surrounding landscape. Its city centre has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the historic old town you can find such magnificent buildings as the opulent Cathedral of Siena, the brightly coloured Palazzo Pubblico, the immense Basilica of San Domenico and the Palazzo Salimbeni. Furthermore the Piazza del Campo is possibly one of the most impressive squares in Tuscany and transports you back into a bygone era. Aside from the breath-taking architecture, the city has a plethora of museums and the narrow cobbled streets are simply perfect to amble through.
The iconic vineyards and olive trees associated with Tuscany are spread throughout the Chianti area, situated between Florence and Siena. You’ll find a series of country roads perfect for a car or bike trip, and this whole area is considered a food and wine paradise.
There are many different itineraries to choose from. One of these is the Chianti Classico route, which touches the towns of Greve in Chianti, Castellina in Chianti and Gaiole in Chianti (do not miss a visit to Castello di Brolio). Another itinerary focuses on the Pesa Valley, including Barberino Val d'Elsa, San Casciano Val di Pesa, San Donato in Poggio, Badia a Passignano and other hidden gems in this undeniably beautiful area.
Florence is the jewel of the Renaissance and is renowned worldwide for its contribution to the arts and culture of modern society. During the Middle Ages Florence was one of the most important cities in the world and gave birth to legends such as Da Vinci and Michelangelo. Today Florence is a thriving city with a dazzling amount of attractions. The Duomo and Baptistery are simply magnificent with their polychrome faces. The Ponte Vecchio spanning the Arno River is intriguing with its array of shops and stalls. The Piazza della Signoria contains the medieval Palazzo Vecchio, the Galleria dell’Accademia and the opulent fountain of Neptune. Every corner of this city is packed full of interesting sites of historical significance.
The mystical beauty of Fiesole, less than 10 km outside of Florence, encompasses centuries of history and it is amazing well preserved. Largely unknown by many, this small town hides a wealth of surprises: the massive stones that make up the Etruscan walls, the remains of Roman baths, the green hilltop where Leonardo da Vinci first experimented with the concept of flight, and the Roman amphitheater that still serves as a stage for the EstateFiesolana summer events. The small city center is home to a wide range of historical sites, churches and parks where you can spend some time escaping from the hustle and bustle of Florence. The hillside looms 295 meters above Florence, offering a special and stunning panorama of the Renaissance city.
Val d'Orcia 105km
This area, characterized by green fields, vineyards and rolling hills, boasts very famous towns such as Pienza, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Monticchiello, Bagno Vignoni, San Quirico d’Orcia, Rocca d'Orcia etc. The whole area is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and each small village has its own peculiarities.
There are plenty of things to see in Vinci and many of them are related to Leonardo’s life: the house in which he was born, just 3 kilometres from Vinci in the middle of the countryside, the church where he was baptised, and the museum and the library that take his name. In the town centre you’ll find the Guidi castle, which contains the Leonardo museum and bears painted and sculpted coats of arms as well as a ceramic Madonna and Child by Giovanni della Robbia, made in 1523.
Pisa is famous for its leaning tower, which all visitors must climb and take a good touristy photo with. You'll be in the Pizza dei Miracoli, where you can admire the Cathedral and the Baptistery, both of which date back to the Italian Renaissance. Besides its tower, Pisa has much more to do and see. To visit its historic Piazza dei Cavalieri, take a stroll along the Arno River. And before you leave Pisa, be sure to try the local delicacy, a chickpea flour bread called cecina.
Nicknamed the “city of 100 churches”, Lucca is famous for its perfectly preserved and walkable 16th century walls. This 4 kilometer walkway overlooking the town is a great starting point for a tour of the town. Don’t miss Piazza Anfiteatro, with its elliptical shape, the Guinigi tower and its trees on top, the forum located in the S. Michele square, and the beautiful San Martino Cathedral. You can access the city centre from 6 different “porte”, or gates.
San Vincenzo, Baratti and Populonia 98k
San Vincenzo, just an hour and twenty minutes from San Gimignano is the perfect destination for a day by the sea. It is one of the most famous seaside town of the Etruscan Coast, with a beautiful sea, charming shops and excellent restaurants. The Proceeding for a few kilometers along Via della Principessa towards Piombino you get to the natural reserve of Rimigliano, and then continue towards the wonderful Gulf of Baratti. If you love history you can visit the Archeological Park of Baratti and Populonia, in the Gulf of Baratti between San Vincenzo and Piombino, including a large necropolis left by the ancient Etruscans. Moreover, don't miss to visit Populonia Alta, a wonderful tiny hamlet, built up on a hill faced of the Gulf of Baratti, which is the first and unique coastal village built by Etruscans.