Walking Tour of San Gimignano, Italy
Another classic Tuscan "hill town," San Gimignano’s skyline is the most dramatic in the region. The many towers (and there are far fewer today than there were in the town’s heyday) are indicative of its great wealth, as residents built taller and taller towers to outdo their neighbors. This delightful stroll combines interesting squares, cobblestone streets, and sigificant artwork and architecture.
My walk begins at the Porta San Giovanni, convenient access to the town and near several parking areas. Take Via San Giovanni north, past numerous shops and galleries, under the Arco dei Becci and into the beautiful Piazza della Cisterna, whose name derives form the town well, at the east end of the square.
Explore the perimeter of the square, then continue northward from the piazza, uphill to the Piazza del Duomo, which contains the town’s main church the Collegiata, dating from the 11th century, and the Palazzo del Popolo, San Gimignano’s Town Hall. The upper floors of the Town Hall contain the city’s museum, the Museo Civico.
Also part of the Town Hall is the Torre Grossa, the great tower, tallest of these vertical monoliths at just under 200 feet. The climb to the top of the tower is worthwhile for the incredible views of the Tuscan countryside and the rooftops of the town below.
Exit southward on Via della Costerella, then turn right and right again, up the stairs, and left to the fortress (Rocca) which, again, commands wonderful views.
From the fortress, turn left then right into Piazza Nomi and back to the Piazza del Duomo. Then turn left onto Via San Matteo which leads to Saint Augustine’s Church, at the far north end of town. Check out the frescoes before returning the way you came, then back to the Piazza della Cisterna and down Via San Giovanni to the starting point of the walk.