San Gimignano, a small walled village about halfway between Florence and Siena, is famous for its charming medieval architecture and towers that rise above of all the other buildings offering an impressive view of the city from the surrounding valley (If you want to know more about the towers read the article "The towers of San Gimignano"). This fascinating village suffers from a mass tourism hit and run, with groups arriving in the city, they cross it quickly and then they leave again. San Gimignano should be discovered slowly, the best way to enjoy this gem at best, to savor the uniqueness of this city is to get lost and wander aimlessly through its streets, the squares, so it is preferable to do it during low season and out of the weekends.
Truly a little gem, it is so precious that UNESCO has declared it a “World Heritage Site.” Walking through the Old City means plunging into the Middle Ages and getting a taste of what the city must have been like more than seven hundred years ago. The Old City is enclosed with 13th-century walls and is accessed by two main streets that intersect to create two wonderful piazzas.
You can start your visit from the Cathedral or Minster and the renowned art gallery. Then you can ascend the Torre Grossa, and enjoy the panorama of the whole countryside around Siena. Or walk among olive trees near the Rocca of Montestaffoli, visit the famous museum dedicated to torture over the centuries, and finally visit the magnificent city hall. In its many taverns you can taste the wine for which San Gimignano is famous: the inexpensive, light, and fruity Vernaccia di San Gimignano, with cold cuts of Cinta Senese (high-quality salami and such to be found only in this area).
Though San Gimignano has perfectly good accommodations, if you want to get in the full spirit of the Tuscan magic, stay in the countryside surrounding the town, either at a bed-and-breakfast-type guesthouse or an agriturismo. At many of these places, visitors can enjoy fine food, a swimming pool, a serene setting, and the company of other travelers — and good Tuscan living.
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