San Gimignano is something of medieval time capsule in Tuscany. Walking through the town gates and into the narrow streets really does feel like walking back in time. 7 tall towers (of the original 70) still stand over the city, and the breathtaking Tuscan landscape viewed on any side of the town is straight out of a fairytale. San Gimignano has had a rough history. The town was situated on a major travel route through Italy in the middle ages, and was a popular stop for crusaders heading too/from battle in the holy land and other road weary travelers. When the black death swept Europe in 1348, the disease struck San Gimignano hard. With nearly its entire population wiped out, the town fell into disrepair and became something of a ghost town. For that, much of its original charm remains, even if it’s been reconstructed and reinforced in the last few decades.
Today, the town is filled with tourists and the buildings on the main drag are filled with souvenir shops. The good news is that most of the hoards come for the day and stay elsewhere, so if you can stay in San Gimignano you can have the place virtually to yourself late in the evening and early in the morning. On top of that, the main church in town is decorated with impressive 14th century frescos that are in great condition. Here’s our pal Rick Steves to give us a glimpse of San Gimignano. Enjoy-