The beautiful Tuscan town of San Gimignano has featured in several movies as well as Tea with Mussolini for good reason. It is hard to imagine a more picturesque town, with its 14 towers dominating the hilltop.
It was an Etruscan village and was named San Gimignano after the Bishop of Modena, who is said to have saved the town from Attila the Hun. At one time there were 72 towers, built around the 13th century. With so many wars going on between neighbouring towns at the time, it is a wonder that any still exist at all.
It is impossibly busy with tourists, but if you stay overnight outside the busy season you will have the town to yourself after the tourist buses have left. We arrived in the late afternoon to find swarms of Italian school students filling the streets, but they eventually left and we were free to wander almost alone.
As luck would have it I booked the Hotel Cisterna, which turned out to be right in the centre of town in a 14th century building.
The Hotel Cisterna is behind the cisterna (well) in the Piazza Cisterna. It is a gorgeous square.
The town has dozens of ceramic shops. I defy you to leave without at least one beautiful piece.
San Gimignano is a beautiful town to wander in, with a delight at every turn.
The cathedral has the most amazing fresoes, but I can’t show you as no photos were allowed, and there were evil guards to make sure.
In the piazza in front of the church is the gathering place for the local gentlemen. No doubt they are still there solving the problems of the world.
Their view is pretty good. I would sit there for hours too, if I could.
The piazzas look especially lovely in the evening.
We got up early in the morning to walk around the edge of the town. It was early spring on a damp, cool morning and it was beautiful.
San Gimignano deserves to be a popular place to visit. Go in the off season if you can and avoid the town on Thursday when a huge market fills the main piazza and ruins the ambience of the centre.