San Donato in Poggio – A Tiny, Lively Chianti Village

You’ve climbed the Torre Grossa in San Gimignano, stared at Michelangelo’s David in Florence, and explored Siena’s contrade (neighborhoods).   These places are gorgeous, interesting, and… full of visitors.

If you’re looking to see a small Tuscan village (like you daydream about, or see in films), enter ‘San Donato in Poggio’ into your rental car’s GPS and head to the charming town. 

San Donato in Poggio (or just San Donato, to locals) is a compact medieval village tucked in the Chianti hills amongst vineyards and forest.  It’s easy to drive by it on your way to more well-known Chianti towns like Castellina, Radda, and Gaiole, but you won’t be disappointed if you park your car and explore. 

Stop in for an afternoon coffee, evening aperitivo, or best of all – dinner.  The village is especially lively in the summer, when restaurants spill into the streets and locals descend on the town after spending all day inside hiding from the summer heat.


Where is San Donato in Poggio?

San Donato in Poggio is in central Italy, between Florence and Siena.  It’s in the Chianti area in the region of Tuscany (Toscana) and the province of Florence (Firenze). 

San Donato is high up on a ridge between the Elsa and Pesa river valleys.

Map of San Donato in Poggio

How Much Time to Spend in San Donato in Poggio

If it works with your schedule, stop in for dinner during the summer.  San Donato is at its best in the evening. 

Otherwise, stop by in the afternoon for a quick stroll (best if you come after 4:00 pm, when things start to open back up) and a coffee or cocktail.

You can also make San Donato (or the surrounding countryside) a base for exploring Tuscany.  It’s well-positioned next to the FI-SI superstrada (highway) that runs between Florence and Siena and meets up with the A1 Autostrada.

Things to Do in San Donato in Poggio

Narrow lane with a Vespa parked against the wall in San Donato in Poggio in Tuscany, Italy.

You won’t find any major monuments or sites in San Donato in Poggio.  If that’s what you’re looking for, keep driving!  If you want to spend a few hours in a real Tuscan town, you may want to check out some of the following on your visit:

  • Check out the Views – San Donato in Poggio is set up on a hill and it’s surrounded by vineyards and gorgeous vistas.  Walk along the 16th-century walls and enjoy the bella vista!
  • Eat – One of the best things to do in San Donato is have dinner at a restaurant with tables that spill onto the street or piazza.  See below for our suggestions.
  • Admire Porta Fiorentina and Porta Senese – The two main entrances to the walled town (one is the entrance from Florence, the other from Siena).  Head up from the Porta Fiorentina to the village’s main street, Via del Giglio (the lily iris, Florence’s flower).  Good To Know:  There’s a water fountain at Porta Fiorentina.
  • Walk to Pieve di San Donato – Located just outside the village, the 10th-century church is most often visited for its glazed terracotta baptismal font by Giovanni della Robbia.
  • Look up at Il Torrino Watchtower – The ‘little tower’ is San Donato’s watch tower that rises from the village walls.
  • Visit the Emilio Ferrari Museum – Ferrari collected equipment and tools used by peasants and farmers (blacksmiths, wine growers, olive harvesters, carpenters, and more) and it’s all on display in the museum. 
  • Shop at the Friday Market – It’s a typical Tuscan market and includes fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Attend a Local Festival – Some of San Donato’s best festivals include l’Infiorata del Corpus Domini (1st Sunday in June), when flower petals are used to decorate the streets and there’s a religious procession; La Bruscellata (late June – early July), a medieval festival that includes music and a medieval parade.

Where to Eat in San Donato in Poggio

Entrance to Antica Trattoria La Toppa in San Donato in Poggio (Tuscany, Italy).

Antica Trattoria La Toppa – typical Tuscan fare.  Don’t pass up the pappardelle all’anatra (pasta with duck sauce).  Reserve an outdoor table.
Via del Giglio, 43.  +39 055.8072900

La Taverna di Ciccino Pizzeria – excellent pizza in the adorable main piazza.  You’ll feel like you’re in a film.
Via del Giglio, 19.  +39 055.8072307

Coop – grab some simple ingredients (bread, olives, cheese, wine) and have a picnic overlooking the vineyards.
Via Senese, 1. +39 055.8072944

Macelleria Parti – staying in a nearby agristurismo with a kitchen?  If so, pick up some meat from this butcher for your lunch or dinner.  My father-in-law drives from another city to get his meat here, and we order our Thanksgiving turkey here!
Via Senese, 33.  +39 055.8072952

Bar Pieri – classic, no-frills Tuscan bar.  Hang with the locals while you drink your espresso.
Via del Giglio, 1.  +39 055.8072908

Good To Know:  Palazzo Pretorio is permanently closed (2022).

Where to Eat Near San Donato in Poggio

Fattoria Montecchio– gets rave reviews for its scenery and excellent Chianti Classico wine.
Strada Montecchio, 4.  +39 055.8072907

La Locanda di Pietracupa – well-known in the area for its classic Tuscan cuisine. 
Strada Pietracupa, 31.  +39 055.8072400

Trattoria la Vecchia Capannina ­– home-cooked meals, with locally-sourced ingredients.
Strada Provinciale per San Donato, 101.

San Donato in Poggio with Kids

There aren’t many ‘attractions’ for kids in San Donato, but they’ll enjoy:

  • Running around in the pedestrian-only streets and piazzas
  • Checking out the well in the main piazza (Piazza Malaspina)
  • Playing at the small playground (just below the city walls near Porta Senese).  It’s got a water fountain, nice views, benches, and some shade.
  • Attending one of the village events, especially La Bruscellata (medieval festival) and the Infiorata (flower festival – kids can even participate)
  • Seeing the tools and equipment at the Emilio Ferrari Museum
  • Getting an ice cream bar at Bar Pieri

Looking for more things to do with your kids while you’re here?
Check out our posts on 70 Things To Do With Kids In Tuscany!

Where to Stay in San Donato in Poggio

The area around San Donato is full of beautiful agriturismi, many with pools (important during the hot Tuscan summers!).

In-Town Options:

  • Palazzo Malaspina B&B – Family-run and lovingly furnished.  It feels like you’re staying in a family home, because you are.
  • Le Terrazze del Chianti – Family-run B&B that overlooks the vineyards. 

How to Get to San Donato in Poggio

Car

Arriving by car is the best and easiest way to get to San Donato in Poggio.  You’ll take smaller roads from neighboring Chianti towns, or EXIT San Donato off the FI-SI superstrada if you’re coming from further away. 

Good To Know:  The views on the road between San Donato and Castellina (SP 101 / SP 76) are some of the best in the area.

Parking in San Donato – There are plenty of free spaces along the city walls, and if those are full, you can park in one of the small lots (look for the blue ‘P’).

Public Transport

San Donato in Poggio is not convenient to reach by public transport. 

Things to See and Do Around San Donato in Poggio

Outer walls with flags and black rooster sculpture in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, Tuscany.
San Casciano Val di Pesa
  • Chianti Towns – Castellina in Chianti, Greve in Chianti, Radda in Chianti, Panzano in Chianti, Gaiole in Chianti
  • Antinori nel Chianti Classico – Cantina and vineyard of wine producer Antinori
  • Osservatorio Polifunzionale del Chianti – See the stars and the night sky on a visit to the Astronomical Observatory.  It’s located inside the Chianti Botanical Garden.
  • Badia a Passignano – Picturesque abbey on a hillside, surrounded by vineyards. Home to Michelin-star restaurant Osteria del Passignano. 
  • Montefioralle – Another tiny village in the area, nestled in the hill above Greve in Chianti
  • Corzano e Paterno – Reserve a tasting of the farm’s cheeses and wines on their outdoor terrace
  • San Casciano in Val di Pesa – Another ‘true’ Tuscan town, located closer to Florence
  • Siena ­– home of the Palio, ricciarelli, and the gorgeous Piazza del Campo
  • Florence – art masterpieces, excellent gelato, and bistecca alla fiorentina
  • San Gimignano – Tuscany’s medieval Manhattan