Visiting San Gimignano: Photo Essay

| February 25, 2013 | 58 Comments

Visiting San Gimignano was one of the highlights of our Italian adventure last year. I took hundreds of San Gimignano photos and couldn’t get enough of the ancient medieval towers with the incredible Tuscan countryside acting as the canvas.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

San Gimignano Photos: The Towers are seen for miles around, like sentries standing guard over an ancient civilisation.

San Gimignano Photos

San Gimignano, or Town of Fine Towers, is a tiny village on a hilltop in the province of Siena, Tuscany, a couple of hours south of Florence. It is world-famous for it’s 14 medieval towers which still stand sentry within the walled town.

During the Middle Ages there used to be 72 towers, some over 50 meters in height, built by the richest families in the town. Much like modern-day Dubai, the families competed to have the tallest towers to demonstrate their power and wealth.

Of course that meant they were a beacon for any marauding Romans from out of town and the village was attacked countless times. Luckily San Gimignano is a UNESCO world heritage site to protect this incredible village forever.

We visited San Gimignano while we were exploring Tuscany by Scooter and could easily have stayed here for more than half a day.

San Gimignano Photos

San Gimignano Photos: A Tuscan villa and vineyard outside the San Gimignano city walls.

San Gimignano Photos

San Gimignano Photos: Many locals have taken up painting to showcase their beautiful village and sell them in all the tourist shops.

San Gimignano Photos

Visiting San Gimignano: Piazza Cisterna. Just one of the many squares.

San Gimignano Photos

Visiting San Gimignano: The San Gimignano Twin Towers.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

Visiting San Gimignano: The narrow cobbled streets are only fit for walking inside the city walls.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

San Gimignano Photos: The locals brought their own chairs to watch over the bustling tourists in the Piazza.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

San Gimignano Photos: Locals resting from the summer sun under the arches.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

Photos of San Gimignano: The San Gimignano Towers rise above the small village.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

Photos of San Gimignano: One of the many Churches in San Gimignano.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

Photos of San Gimignano: Birds eyeview from one of San Gimignano Towers over Tuscany.

Visiting San Gimignano Photos

Photos of San Gimignano: Adela hiking between the ancient towers.

Visiting San Gimignano

Getting to San Gimignano from Florence

San Gimignano is approximately 60 km south of Florence and is relatively easy to get to. To get to San Gimignano from Florence on public transportation, jump on a bus or train from Florence to Poggibonsi. From Poggibonsi you can catch a local bus to San Gimignano.

If arriving by car then you will have to park outside the city walls and explore on foot.

We stayed in Certaldo, which is another medieval village in the Tuscan countryside, and it was only a short train ride to Poggibonsi.

The other alternative is to take a tour from Florence to San Gimignano. They will pick you up from Florence and show you the sights around the rest of Tuscany too.

Extra Travel Tip: San Gimignano Gelato

Don’t forget to buy a delicious gelato from Sergio who is the master ice cream maker at the world famous Gelateria di Piazza. It is located in the central Piazza della Cisterna in San Gimignano and will be easy to spot due to the horrendous lines out the door.

Included in his locally sourced flavours are  Crema di Santa Fina (cream with saffron and pine nuts), Champelmo (pink grapefruit and sparkling wine), and Dolceamaro (cream with aromatic herbs).

About the Author ()

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

Comments (58)

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  1. kami says:

    San Gimignano has been on my bucket list for years and these pictures made me wanna go there even more! Guess I should look for some cheap flights to Italy soon 😉
    kami recently posted..a tale of Moroccan people

  2. Jennifer says:

    San Gimignano is very pretty. We were just there a few weekends ago and stayed just outside the city walls. Sadly and much to my surprise, many of the wineries located along the San Gimignano Wine Road close up for a few months between November and April. We’ll just have to go back!
    Jennifer recently posted..The Matterhorn’s History Comes to Life at the Matterhorn Museum

  3. ed says:

    Che bellisime foto! And it made me speak in Italian…:)
    ed recently posted..Dubai Miracle Garden: A Paradise on Earth

  4. These are really great photos guys! We are just planning our Italy trip as we speak so it looks like San Gimignano just made the itinerary!
    Nicole @ Suitcase Stories recently posted..Our Life List (Bucket List) with awesome photos!

  5. Ahh… Italy!! I don’t think there’s any other country that makes me yearn to just be part of it. The colours in these pics are amazing – check out that blue sky!
    Bethaney – Flashpacker Family recently posted..Travel Hacking New Zealand: Transportation on the Cheap

  6. Larissa says:

    We haven’t been to San Gimignano for several years, but it’s nice to see that it’s still just as beautiful. It is especially magical at night when the streets are almost deserted. OK, looking up flights to Italy now. . . 😉
    Larissa recently posted..How to travel: 14 travel myths debunked (Part 1)

  7. I love the birds eye view of San Gimignano Towers over Tuscany. It is very pretty!

  8. Teresa says:

    I was in San Gimignano a few years ago and I loved it, especially when all the day trippers left. I went by train from Lucca and then caught the bus from Poggibonsi. I love the photo of the locals resting under the arches.
    Teresa recently posted..Should You Let Or Sell Your Property?

    • We were just sitting down having gelato when all the old locals started coming in. I guess they were escaping the heat too! They were all laughing and catching up even though they probably do it every day 🙂

  9. Rene Rotterdam says:

    San Gimignano is so nice for a holiday, we are now several times and it suits us fine highly recommended

  10. what gorgeous colors- i Love the sun and shadows!
    wanderingeducators recently posted..An Unexpected Encounter in Acadia National Park

  11. Bellissima! Some of THE most beautiful photos I have seen of this magical village! San Gimignano is one of the stops on my Tuscan tours, I will surely share your post with my travelers!

  12. Great photos. How I haven’t visited Tuscany yet is beyond me…
    D.J. – The World of Deej recently posted..A Gift From The Travel Gods And A Failure To Pay It Forward

  13. Boo, I was in Florence just a month ago! I’ve always loved medieval and towns, simply because nothing in America is that old! I was enchanted by Besalu, Split and St. Paul de Vence, and love that everything in Spain is crazy old.
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted..Tapa Thursdays: Hamburguesas

  14. San Gimignano seems like a place I would love to visit. I love the photo collections. I like the photo where the locals seems to be resting, that’s what I call chilling out.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..11 reasons to visit India

  15. Julika says:

    Gorgeous! It looks like an Italian dream come true!
    It’s been just way too long since I’ve visited Italy!
    Julika recently posted..Picturesque Monday: Adorable Augsburg

  16. Your photos are beautiful! I’d love to visit this town. 🙂
    Cheryl Howard recently posted..La Prima Fashion Hotel in Budapest, Hungary.

  17. Laurence says:

    I’ve visited all sorts of parts of Italy, but somehow never found the time to relax under the Tuscan sun. Looks like that’s going to have to change!
    Laurence recently posted..Best Things To Do In Stockholm

  18. Arti says:

    Seems like an absolutely magical place! Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful pictures with us 🙂
    Arti recently posted..Going Vegan: A Vegetarian’s food guide in Japan

  19. No one does an ancient stone mountain town like Italy. And thanks for the learning about all those towers.
    Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey recently posted..Party in the Streets – 2013 Carnaval, Las Tablas, Panama (Day 1)

  20. Fantastic photos! It’s remarkable what they managed to build with the technology they had, and that the towers haven’t sunk or leaned over the centuries.
    Lesley Peterson recently posted..ArtSmart Roundtable: mosaics of the Basilica of San Vitale, Ravenna

    • There were a lot more towers in San Gimignano in the past so I guess those must have fallen down at some stage! Most of them looked like they now had metal rods supporting them through the walls etc too. Really hope that in years to come we don’t lose these amazing buildings!

  21. I liked San Gimignano way more than Florence. Lots of character and winding narrow streets.
    Mary @ Green Global Travel recently posted..PHOTO GALLERY: 20 Pictures of Sunsets Around the World

  22. Jenna says:

    I went to San Gimignano a long time ago, climbed one of the towers for a winter view of Tuscany, and loved the day I spent there. I’ve heard since that it’s too crowded with tourists, but maybe that’s more a problem in the summer. Great photos!! Makes me want to go back.
    Jenna recently posted..Quality Travel: How? Part 2

    • Definitely is busy in summer but if you are there early in the morning or after 3 or 4pm then there are only locals about. All the tourists arrive for 2 hours around lunchtime on tour buses.

  23. This place looks surreal. I have heard about it but haven’t seen more gorgeous photos.
    Ruth (Tanama Tales) recently posted..Discovery of the Week: Rocamadour, France

  24. I think I visited all the wrong parts of Italy when I was there – I seemed to have missed all these small picturesque places

  25. Stephen S. says:

    These photos kicked my wanderlust for Italy into overdrive! Breath-taking photos of the landscape.
    Stephen S. recently posted..I’m Driving a Third the Planet in a Hyundai Getz!

  26. Love the photos and insights! I’ll be visiting Tuscany in July (using Florence as a base) and will definitely visit San Gimignano.
    Thomas Dembie recently posted..Sossusvlei Namibia: Tips and Insights

  27. Karisa says:

    Beautiful! I was fortunate enough to visit San Gimignano during the winter of 2010 as the town was decorated for the holidays. I enjoyed wandering the walled city as evening approached. I wasn’t able to climb any of the town’s famous towers, so I really liked your picture from way up high! 🙂 I agree with you-you could spend much longer than just half a day at San Gimignano!
    Karisa recently posted..Beer Cans, Bone Fragments & AK47’s: My First Day in Cambodia

  28. Elle Croft says:

    Oh, wow, these photos are just breathtaking!
    I will be in Florence later this year and I’m looking for some places to head on a day trip from there – San Gimignano has just shot to the top of my list!
    Elle Croft recently posted..[Flavours of Morocco: Cooking in Marrakech]

  29. Alexandra says:

    ITALY!!! Oh how I love Italy. I haven’t ever made it to Tuscany but if it is anything like Umbria I might never leave.
    Alexandra recently posted..932 Days On The Road

  30. Emily says:

    Beautiful photos. Can I ask, are these the originals or have they been enhanced?

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