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12 Essential Things to Do in San Gimignano, Italy

Twilight at Piazza della Cisterna, San Gimignano

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I recently spent several days in Tuscany, and returning to this region is always a gem. I’ve spent plenty of time here, and it never gets old. These are my favorite things to do in San Gimignano to make the most of your trip.

Exploring the streets of San Gimignano today feels like stepping back in time, as the town has remained largely unchanged since the Middle Ages. The city’s architecture, layout, and atmosphere are beautifully preserved, offering a rare glimpse into the past and allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history of this enchanting Tuscan gem.

What is San Gimignano Known for?

Twilight at Piazza della Cisterna, San Gimignano
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

San Gimignano, a charming medieval town nestled in the heart of Tuscany, is renowned for its rich history and unique architectural features. During the Middle Ages, San Gimignano flourished due to its strategic location along the Via Francigena, a major pilgrimage route, and its proximity to another important route leading to the harbor of Pisa.

Pisa, a maritime republic at the time, was one of the most significant ports in the Mediterranean region, and San Gimignano benefited greatly from its trade connections.

The town is famous not only for its stunning tower houses, which have earned it the nickname “Medieval Manhattan,” but also for its exceptional local products and handicrafts. The golden era of San Gimignano’s prosperity spanned from the 11th to the 14th century, but the town’s fortunes dramatically turned in 1348 when the Black Plague struck.

A significant portion of the population perished, and just three years later, Florence conquered San Gimignano, stripping the town of its independence and marking the beginning of a steep decline.

1. Visit the Piazza del Duomo

Christmas tree lights up medieval San Gimignano squareChristmas tree lights up medieval San Gimignano squareChristmas tree lights up medieval San Gimignano square
Kyle Kroeger / ViaTravelers

At the heart of the medieval tapestry that is San Gimignano is the Piazza del Duomo – a captivating tableau of historical and architectural grandeur. Enveloped by the towering façades of centuries-old structures, it’s a testament to the wealth and power of this once-flourishing city-state. It’s a great place to start your adventure or find a place to…

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