Just like many Italian regions, Tuscany is rich in ancient towns and villages. They have a special power – the power of bringing every visitor back in time, to when the houses were built in stones, noblemen used to live in mighty towers, and little towns grew within the perimeter of their walls. Indeed, all these places have some kind of magic, some of them are so well-preserved to seem like a dream.
San Gimignano is doubtless one of them.
Where is San Gimignano?
San Gimignano is situated right in the heart of Tuscany, 50 km from Florence and 40 km from Siena. While approaching it, you can identify its profile even from the distance, because it is located on the top of a hill. And one thing is for sure: its skyline full of towers cannot be mistaken!
Even though it is surrounded by one of the finest Tuscan panoramas, with rolling hills and sunny countryside, San Gimignano is not that far away from the Thyrrenian Sea. It is 70 km away from Livorno, the main Tuscan port where many cruises land. In fact, San Gimignano can be easily reached from the port of Livorno and explored with a day tour, as we have already suggested.
Now that you know where San Gimignano is, let’s find out more about its two main attractions: the ancient towers and the Vernaccia wine.
San Gimignano towers – A Renaissance Manhattan
As we said, San Gimignano’s skyline cannot be mistaken. This is because it still preserves 14 ancient towers which stand out against the sky. If you think that 14 towers are a lot, just consider that during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, San Gimignano came to have up to 72 towers! Most of them have been destroyed by intestine wars or urban makeovers, during the centuries.
Once the symbol of the most powerful families, San Gimignano’s 14 towers are nowadays the symbol of the town, renowned as “The Renaissance Manhattan”. San Gimignano city centre and its 14 towers are also listed in the UNESCO world heritage as “an exceptional testimony of medieval civilization”. As a matter of fact, the town and its towers still show how an ancient feudal Tuscan city really looked like.
Vernaccia wine – A splash of white in a land of reds
To make your “journey in the past” really complete, you should know that San Gimignano has also another treat – its wine. Tuscany is mainly a land of red wines (have you ever heard about Chianti?), but the San Gimignano area is home to Vernaccia wine, which is one of its most famous whites.
Acclaimed as one of the best Tuscan wines, Vernaccia is fruity and fresh, good to pair with white meat and fish. It shares with the towers of San Gimignano a strong relationship with the past, as Vernaccia wine has been cultivated in the area for centuries.
Experts say that it probably comes from a local grape variety, for it is mentioned the first time in 1276 in the town hall archives as a commercial product. Dante Alighieri mentions it in its Divine Comedy too, and it was also appreciated by Lorenzo The Magnificent and many Popes of the past.
After a stroll in San Gimignano’s alleys and piazzas, in the shade of its beautiful towers, just relax and take a sip of Vernaccia wine, admiring the sunset over the hills – you will experience the taste of Tuscany!