San Gimignano is a small but one of the most visited towns in Tuscany.
First of all, the town is famous for its tower-houses. At the period of the town’s greatest flourishing they were 72 in number but only 14 have survived until today. But that does not diminish its value. Where else on Earth can you find so many medieval tower-houses that have withstood the ravages of time?
Another value of the town is the fact that it looks like a 15th century medieval town. San Gimignano reached its greatest flourishing in 11th-12th centuries the major reason of which was its location on local “Route 66”. But internal wars and shift of the trading and pilgrim’s route to another place took their toll and caused stop of the town’s growth in the Middle Ages. In the 20th century the town revived through tourism and became one of the must-see destinations in Tuscany.
As you approach San Gimignano its famous tower-houses and spectacularly beautiful surrounding views immediately strike the eye. The cars are forbidden to drive in the town but tourists are offered numerous parking spaces placed around the old town.
We left the car on one of them and started our walk around the town. Apart from the town centre lousy with tourists there are many quiet streets where you can walk soaking up the atmosphere of the pastoral town of the district of Tuscany.
But the closer you get to the town the more towers and people you can see. We made our way from Duomo square to the town’s central gates.
On our way back we couldn’t help but buy ice-cream in the stand which informed the customers that the ice-cream had been declared the best ice-cream in the world from 2006 to 2009. I can say it’s really very tasty. When we were standing in a queue we saw a bride entering the stall. It turned out that in Tuscany eating tasty ice-cream before wedding is part of the tradition.
After a short rest on a bench in front of Duomo we continued our way to the remains of the fortress Rocca di Montestaffoli. It’s a small complex with only one survived ancient turret and 360 degree breathtaking views of the historical centre and surrounding countryside.
We spent more than two hours in San Gimignano but I’m sure it’s far from being enough to see all the local churches and museums. Nevertheless our general impression of the town was very positive. San Gimignano met all our expectations.
Here are some photos of San Gimignano.
There was another town called Siena that was waiting to be visited. We had heard from many people that it was one of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany.