A poor lodging situation robbed us of a day in our recent Tuscany trip and thus robbed us of a proper visit to San Gimignano, so I can’t convey with any sort of authority what exactly you should see or do, but I can tell you that this town isn’t like the others you’ll see. It isn’t Siena or Florence or Pisa in size, surroundings, or style. It really is special and worth a visit.
San Gimignano sits up high overlooking the Tuscan valley below it. This is the heart of Tuscany away from the dirt and chaos of the bigger cities. Here you’re surrounded by olive groves and wineries where you can explore and taste your way though the region. When people think of the beauty of Tuscany, this is it.
I recommend spending at least a day here although it would be easy to stay near here and travel around the region. San Gimignano is close to Siena and Volterra which are both nice towns to visit.
Shopping: There isn’t a shortage of things to buy here, but this little shop though expensive, has an amazing collection of pottery designed and painted by local artists. It also has letter openers in the shapes of various swords which make nice (if not dangerous) souvenirs.
(The nice pottery and metal-ware shop)
Just within the city gate lies a gelato place that’s been in the same family since 1924, but existed even earlier. Brunella’s father bought it then, but she and her sister run it now making each batch of creamy gelato right there on site. This is by far the best lemon gelato that I’ve ever had with nice chunks of lemon rind inside. The place doesn’t look fancy, but the gelato is, portions are generous, and the prices are great!
Wine recommendations from friends who drink:
- “Make sure you try the Vernaccia while you’re in San Gimignano. I don’t even normally like white wines but this stuff was fabulous.”
- “Try the 1988, 1995, or 1997 Brunello. Those are the last 5 star years, although 2007 is also supposed to be a 5- star, but probably isn’t released yet.”