Take a Day Trip to San Gimignano from Florence, Italy

The Chianti region of Italy is renowned for its many vineyards and stately cypress trees scattered throughout the countryside, the silvery green of the olive groves and some of the most magnificent medieval architecture still in existence. It is a picturesque area that has captivated visitors from around the world.

Rolling Hills and Tuscany Vineyard, San Gimignano, ItalyNestled atop one of the numerous hills throughout this region of the Tuscany is the walled medieval village of San Gimignano, best known for its many beautiful towers dating as far back as the 11th century. San Gimignano served as the central reference point for merchants, pilgrims and travelers as they made their way along the Via Francigena when traveling between England and Rome during medieval times. This location was a large factor in the immense prosperity enjoyed by merchants of the era in San Gimignano.

Located just 60 kilometers to the southwest of the beautiful city of Florence, San Gimignano is a wonderful addition to a holiday itinerary. There are a number of tour operators that offer day trips through the region and provide knowledgeable commentary of the area. Most tours visiting San Gimignano require around 8 to 9 hours and offer the convenience of allowing guests to enjoy the sights without the worry of getting lost.

As travelers make their way through this lovely region of Italy they are rewarded with spectacular scenery, adding to the anticipation of wandering through the narrow lanes and magnificent examples of medieval architecture awaiting them. When the unique San Gimignano skyline comes into view it is breathtaking, punctuated by the 14 remaining medieval towers that once symbolized the affluence of their owners. The backdrop of rolling green hills creates a wonderful contrast to the red and gray brick used in the construction of the city.

Once arriving in San Gimignano there are many wonderful sights that beg to be explored starting with the city walls that once served to protect the inhabitants from invaders including the unsuccessful invasion by the infamous Attilla the Hun.

Some of the most significant monuments within the city are found in or near the city center. The magnificent San Gimignano Cathedral or Collegiata, located on the Piazza del Duomo, hides its best characteristics within its rather understated exterior. Upon crossing the threshold of this grand cathedral visitors are greeted by stunning 14th century frescoes and many works of art from the Italian renaissance period.

The Chiesa di Sant’Agostino is another beautiful cathedral in San Gimignano. Constructed in the 13th century, again the exterior belies the exquisite interior, with a series of amazing frescoes throughout. Its most notable attraction is a fresco painted by Benozzo Gozzoli that is located in the apse.

There are several museums in San Gimignano as well including the Archaeological Museum, the Wine Museum and the Museum of Torture and Medieval Crime.

For those visiting in mid-June, a real treat awaits with the annual Medieval Festival or Ferie delle Messi. Jousting, acrobats, jugglers and much more provide an authentic Medieval experience for the entire family.


Montepulciano, Hill Town in Tuscany, Italy

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

Piazza Grande, Montepulciano, ItalyTuscany has so many towns and they are all on hills, but Montepulciano is the highest of them all at close
to 2000 feet elevation. Although this walled medieval town in southern Tuscany is not that easy to reach
without a car, it is well worth going for a day trip from Florence.

Arriving at Montepulciano

Although there is a train station in the town, it is far from the center of Montepulciano, and buses do not
stop there very often. Based on the advice of Rick Steves as well as my personal experience, the train
station at Chiusi is the better option. From there, you can take a bus to Montepulciano and the buses run
every hour or so. The best option however is to have a car.

Cantina Contucci Montepulciano, ItalyWine in Montepulciano

Aside from its Renaissance architecture and medieval charm, Montepulciano is known for its wine,
namely Vino Nobile di Montepulciano and Rosso di Montepulciano. There are cantinas throughout the
town and one in particular welcomes travelers in a special way. Cantina Contucci is one of the oldest
wineries in Montepulciano, located inside Palazzo Contucci, where the Contucci family has lived since
the 11th century. On most days you can find the wonderfully friendly Adamo Pallechi inside the wine
cellar, where he has been making wine for over 50 years. He is more than happy to have you taste the
Contucci wines and even pose for a photo with you.

Palazzo Communale, Montepulciano, ItalyPiazza Grande

Piazza Grande is the real heart of Montepulciano, surrounded by buildings dating back to the 15th century.
Palazzo Communale was actually built in the 13th century and later remodeled in the 15th century. This
serves as the current town hall and was also the backdrop for the scene in the Twilight series New Moon
where Edward was standing and Bella ran into his arms. Piazza Grande was also the filming location for a
scene in Under the Tuscan Sun, when Diane Lane watched a flag throwing contest.

Inside Palazzo Communale is the entrance to the clock tower, which you can climb for the nominal fee
of one euro, the short climb of 26 rickety steps will reward you with beautiful views of the surrounding
countryside, as well as a different perspective of Piazza Grande.

Duomo Montepulciano,ItalyAlso located in this piazza is the Duomo or Cathedral of Montepulciano. Built between 1594 and 1680,
it was built on the site of the ancient Church of Santa Maria. Although the exterior facade was never
completed, the interior more than makes up for it, and is worthy of a visit.

Caffè Poliziano

When your feet are tired of negotiating all the hills and you are looking for something to eat or just a
coffee, try one of the oldest restaurants in Montepulciano. Open since 1868, this elegant restaurant has a
balcony with some of the best views of the Tuscan panorama. Good food, good coffee, great views and
Italian culture at its best is my description for Caffè Poliziano.

Montepulciano is one of those Tuscan hill towns that are amazing to wander through, as every corner
provides another photo opportunity and surprise. The smaller towns in Tuscany are some of my favorite
destinations and Montepulciano is at the top of the list.

Palazzo Communale, Montepulciano, ItalyOther articles by

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

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