Things to do in San Gimignano
San Gimignano, a medieval hill town in Tuscany, Italy, is known for its beautiful architecture, scenic countryside, and rich history. The historic center of San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to numerous historic buildings, churches, and towers that date back to the medieval period.
There are plenty of things to do in San Gimignano, making it an ideal destination for travelers seeking an authentic Italian experience. One of the most popular things to do in San Gimignano is to explore its many historic landmarks, such as the Collegiate Church of San Gimignano and the Torre Grossa. Visitors can also take a stroll through the charming streets of the town’s historic center, which is lined with artisan shops and restaurants.
For those seeking a taste of the local cuisine, San Gimignano offers an array of delicious Tuscan dishes, including hearty soups, handmade pasta, and locally produced wine. Foodies can take a cooking class to learn how to prepare these dishes themselves, or simply indulge in the many dining options available throughout the town.
Overall, San Gimignano is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Tuscany. With its rich history, beautiful architecture, delicious food, and stunning landscapes, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.
Here are some things you can do while visiting San Gimignano:
1. Climb the Torre Grossa
The first thing to do in San Gimignano is climb to the top of the tower. The Torre Grossa is a tower located in the historic center of San Gimignano, a small medieval town in Tuscany, Italy. It is the tallest tower in the town, standing at 54 meters high, and it offers stunning panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The tower was built in the 14th century as a symbol of the wealth and power of the town’s ruling family, the Ardinghelli. It was later owned by various noble families before being acquired by the town in the 20th century.
Visitors can climb to the top of the tower via a narrow spiral staircase, and along the way, they can admire the historic frescoes and decorations that adorn the tower’s interior. The view from the top of the Torre Grossa is breathtaking and well worth the climb.
One of the best things to do in San Gimignano is to taste the ice cream from Gelateria Dondoli. Gelateria Dondoli is a famous gelato shop located in San Gimignano, a medieval town in Tuscany, Italy. The gelateria is known for its high-quality gelato and has won numerous awards, including the title of “world’s best gelato” twice at the Gelato World Cup. If you ever find yourself in San Gimignano, be sure to stop by Gelateria Dondoli and try their delicious gelato flavors!
Dondoli Gelato Class is a great experience for kids and grown-ups. In the very heart of Tuscany, just where the modern age of Gelato started, you will find the best way to learn all you need to know about Gelato, taught with the passion of a great teacher.
3. Taste the local wine:
San Gimignano is known for its delicious white wine, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, which is made from grapes grown in the surrounding vineyards. During a wine tasting in San Gimignano, visitors typically have the opportunity to taste a variety of wines produced by the winery, which may include white wines, red wines, and dessert wines. The winery staff will guide visitors through the tasting, explaining the characteristics of each wine and providing information about the grape varieties and winemaking techniques used to produce them. In addition to wine tasting, many wineries in San Gimignano also offer tours of their vineyards and cellars, where visitors can learn more about the winemaking process and see the different stages of wine production.
4. Vespa tour
A Vespa tour of the San Gimignano countryside can be a wonderful way to explore the beautiful Tuscan landscape. The tour usually starts with a brief orientation on how to safely operate the Vespa, followed by a scenic drive through the picturesque Tuscan landscape. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to stop at various points of interest, such as olive groves, vineyards, and ancient farmhouses, where you can learn about traditional Tuscan agriculture and enjoy tastings of local food and wine. Overall, a Vespa tour of San Gimignano is a fun and unique way to experience the beauty and charm of Tuscany and to create lasting memories of your trip to Italy.
5. Cooking class
One of the best things to do in San Gimignano is undoubtedly a cooking class. In San Gimignano there are some of the most popular cooking classes in all of Tuscany. The cooking classes in San Gimignano typically start with a trip to the local market, where you will be able to pick out fresh ingredients such as vegetables, fruits, and meats. You will then be taken to a cooking school or farmhouse where you will learn how to prepare the ingredients and cook them to perfection. During the cooking class, you will be taught how to make some of the most famous Tuscan dishes such as pasta, gnocchi, ravioli, and bruschetta, as well as traditional Italian desserts like tiramisu and panna cotta. The classes are usually led by experienced chefs who will guide you through each step of the cooking process, offering helpful tips and tricks along the way.
After you have finished preparing the dishes, you will get to sit down and enjoy your creations alongside a glass of local wine. This is a great opportunity to socialize with your fellow classmates and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of San Gimignano. Overall, a cooking class in San Gimignano is an excellent way to learn about Tuscan cuisine, meet new people, and have a fun and memorable experience in one of the most beautiful towns in Italy.
6. Truffle hunting
Truffle hunting is a popular activity in San Gimignano, as the area is home to some of the finest truffles in Italy. Truffle hunters and their trained dogs will guide you through the forested hills, helping you discover these precious gems buried beneath the earth. During the hunt, you’ll learn about the different types of truffles, their unique flavors, and the techniques used to harvest them. You’ll also get to taste freshly shaved truffles and learn how to cook with them.
Truffle hunting tours in San Gimignano are usually led by experienced truffle hunters who have a deep understanding of the local environment and its truffle ecosystem. They’ll take you to some of the best truffle hunting spots in the area and share their knowledge of truffle hunting traditions. Overall, truffle hunting in San Gimignano is a fantastic experience that combines nature, tradition, and gastronomy. It’s a unique way to explore the Tuscan countryside and immerse yourself in the region’s rich culinary heritage.
7. Visit the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria Assunta
(Duomo di San Gimignano)
This 12th-century Romanesque church is one of the most important landmarks in San Gimignano and is known for its stunning frescoes and artwork. The Duomo di San Gimignano is a Romanesque-style cathedral located in the historic town of San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy. It was built in the 12th century and is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta. The exterior of the cathedral is adorned with intricate decorations and features a distinctive facade of white and green marble. The interior is equally impressive, with a nave and two aisles supported by columns and decorated with frescoes and intricate carvings.
One of the most notable features of the Duomo di San Gimignano is its collection of frescoes, which were painted by various artists in the 14th and 15th centuries. The most famous of these frescoes is the cycle by the artist Domenico di Michelino, which depicts scenes from Dante’s Divine Comedy. The cathedral also houses several important works of art, including a wooden crucifix attributed to the sculptor Giunta Pisano, a large altarpiece by Bartolo di Fredi, and a 13th-century baptismal font. Overall, the Duomo di San Gimignano is a stunning example of Romanesque architecture and an important cultural and historical landmark in the region.
8. Explore the countryside:
Take a bike or walking tour of the beautiful Tuscan countryside that surrounds San Gimignano. Hiking in the countryside near San Gimignano can be a truly beautiful experience. The Tuscan landscape is known for its rolling hills, vineyards, olive groves, and historic villages, all of which can be seen while hiking in the area. There are several hiking trails available, ranging from easy to moderate in difficulty.
Some trails take you through fields of sunflowers and other wildflowers, while others wind through forests or along the banks of streams. You may encounter local wildlife such as deer, rabbits, and various bird species. Along the way, you will also be able to enjoy breathtaking views of San Gimignano and the surrounding countryside. The medieval town is famous for its 14 towers, which provide a stunning backdrop to the hiking trails.
9. Tast the saffron:
San Gimignano is known for its well-preserved architecture, including its famous medieval towers, and for its production of saffron. Saffron is a spice that is derived from the dried stigmas of the Crocus sativus flower. The flower is hand-picked and the stigmas are carefully extracted and dried, resulting in a fragrant and flavorful spice that is prized for its unique taste and aroma.
San Gimignano is particularly famous for its high-quality saffron, which is known for its intense aroma and flavor. The saffron is cultivated in the surrounding countryside using traditional methods, and is harvested by hand in the autumn. It is then carefully processed and packaged, ready for sale to local and international markets. The saffron is used in a variety of dishes, including risotto, pasta, and desserts, and is considered a key ingredient in many Tuscan recipes.
The tasting, which includes 3 courses, takes place at lunch. The processing techniques will be explained, you can have a sensory experience and in season see the saffron fields.
10. Visit museums:
San Gimignano has a rich history and a vibrant cultural heritage, which is reflected in its civic museums. The Civic Museums in San Gimignano are a collection of museums that showcase the town’s history and culture. These museums are housed in various historic buildings throughout the town and are open to the public. This museum is located in the Palazzo del Popolo and houses a collection of art and artifacts that represent the town’s history and culture. The museum has several galleries that showcase medieval and Renaissance art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects.
Pinacoteca: This museum is located in the former convent of San Francesco and is dedicated to religious art. The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and other decorative objects from the 13th to the 18th century.
Museo Archeologico: This museum is located in the former church of San Agostino and houses a collection of artifacts from the Etruscan and Roman periods. The museum’s collection includes pottery, coins, and other artifacts that offer a glimpse into the region’s ancient history.
Overall, the Civic Museums in San Gimignano offer visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the town’s rich cultural heritage and history.
11. Galleria d’Arte Continua
Galleria d’Arte Continua is a contemporary art gallery located in the medieval town of San Gimignano. The gallery was established in 1990 by three Italian curators, Mario Cristiani, Lorenzo Fiaschi, and Maurizio Rigillo.
The gallery is housed in a former cinema, which was restored and renovated by the architects Armin Linke, Francesco Magnani, and Traudy Pelzel. The space is characterized by its vaulted ceilings and rustic walls, which provide a striking contrast to the contemporary art on display. The gallery is spread over several levels and includes a large outdoor area, which is used for site-specific installations and performances.
Galleria d’Arte Continua is known for its focus on international contemporary art and its commitment to promoting emerging artists. The gallery has a diverse roster of artists, including Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor, Michelangelo Pistoletto, and Shilpa Gupta, among many others.
12. Balducci Ceramica
Balducci Ceramica is a pottery and ceramics studio located in the town of San Gimignano, Italy. The studio specializes in creating handmade ceramics using traditional techniques and materials. The Balducci family has been producing pottery for generations, and the current owners, Fabio and Alessandra Balducci, continue this tradition with a focus on quality and craftsmanship. Their pieces are known for their unique designs and vibrant colors, often inspired by the Tuscan landscape.
The studio offers a variety of products including plates, bowls, cups, vases, and decorative objects. Each piece is handmade and hand-painted, making them one-of-a-kind works of art. Visitors to San Gimignano can visit the Balducci Ceramica studio to see the artisans at work and purchase their products. Balducci Ceramica’s pieces are highly regarded by collectors and art enthusiasts alike, and are sold in shops and galleries around the world.