Italian piazza with stone buildings and a fountain. This is in San Gimignano, Tuscany, Italy.

Things to Do in San Gimignano – Tried & Tested!

If you’re heading to Tuscany, you’ve likely heard of our ‘Medieval Manhattan’ – San Gimignano.  And, as you drive up, you’ll be impressed by the 17 towers rising above the hillside town.

Lovely.  But, once you’re there – what should you do?

I live about 40 minutes from San Gimignano and we often visit when friends or family come into town.  We also make trips as a family throughout the year.  We’ve done everything on the list below, and we hope one (or more!) of these will be a highlight of your trip to San Gimignano.

Note that this isn’t a list of everything you can possible see and do in San Gimignano – just our favorites and recommendations.

Map of Things to See & Do in San Gimignano

Check out the Views

Green countryside of Tuscany on a sunny day with puffy white clouds. Stone building on right in foreground.
View from the Punto Panoramico (view #2 below)

Yes, you likely saw amazing views of San Gimignano as you arrived (especially if you drove from Florence on the Raccordo Autostradale FI-SI).  But, now take a moment to soak up the views of the Tuscan countryside. 

Our favorite viewpoints in San Gimignano are (marked on the map above):

  • View 1 – From the top of the Torre Grossa (more on that below)
  • View 2 – From the Punto Panoramico (panoramic viewpoint)
  • View 3 – From the old walls at the upper playground
  • View 4 – From the tower of La Rocca

Get Gelato at Dondoli

Hand holds purple cup of gelato in a piazza in San Gimignano, Italy.

San Gimignano is home to the famous Gelateria Dondoli, set in the picturesque Piazza della Cisterna (the main piazza in town).  The lines are loooong, but they move fast, and once you taste the gelato, you’ll be glad you waited. 

Dondoli has racked up a couple of gelato world championship awards, and there are a ton of flavors to choose from, including unique gusti like:

  • Crema di Santa Fina (cream with local saffron and pine nuts)
  • Blackberry lavender
  • Italian garden (basil, cheesecake, strawberry and tomato sauces, crumble)
  • Vernaccia sorbet (Vernaccia is the local white wine)
  • Raspberry and rosemary
  • Gorgonzola and walnut

Grab a cup and enjoy it in the piazza or around the corner in the shade in the covered area of Piazza del Duomo.

Discover more of our Favorite Gelaterie in Tuscany

Climb Torre Grossa

If you like tower climbs and views, make sure you climb San Gimignano’s Torre Grossa (big tower). 

It’s not a difficult climb up the 200 steps, but if you have vertigo, you may not like it as the climb view is open so you can see all the way down easily. 

At the top, marvel at the 360 degree views of the Tuscan countryside.  And, you get a different perspective of some of the other towers and you can see the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Cisterna below. 

This is one of our favorite tower climbs in Tuscany!

Good To Know:  Your Torre Grossa ticket also includes entrance to the Palazzo Comunale museum (more on it below).

Have a Meal in San Gimignano

San Gimignano has plenty of lunch and dinner options.  A few to check out:

  • Le Vecchie Mura – Our pick for classic Tuscan fare with to-die-for views.  Make sure you call ahead and ask for a spot on the detached terrace.
  • Vinaio – Stop in for a made-to-order panino.  Cozy indoor seating (also upstairs).
  • Ristorante Fuoriluogo – Just outside of the city walls (downhill walk for ~100 meters via steps or ramp), Fuoriluogo has excellent pastas and meat dishes.  I’ve had great meals here with visiting friends.  Book ahead if possible, but I’ve also just shown up and gotten a table. 
  • LinfaMichelin-starred Linfa is perfect for a romantic dinner or a foodie night out with friends.  My husband and I have dined here and would happily come back.

Visit the Duomo

Detailed fresco of the Last Judgement inside San Gimignano's Duomo in Italy.
The Last Judgement fresco inside the Duomo

Even if you’re not an art enthusiast, San Gimignano’s Duomo (aka Duomo di Santa Maria Assunta) is definitely worth visiting.  Inside, head to the right and find the Santa Fina chapel.  Santa Fina is one of San Gimignano’s patron saints, and the inside of the chapel is decorated with some of Tuscany’s most famous frescoes.  They were painted by Ghirlandaio and show scenes from Santa Fina’s life.

You’ll also find frescoed scenes from both the New and the Old Testament of the Bible.

And, one of the most interesting works is Taddeo di Bartolo’s ‘Hell’ fresco.

Love Frescoes?  If so, walk past Piazza della Cisterna to the Church of San Lorenzo in Ponte.  It’s almost always empty and has some unique recovered frescoes.

Stroll the Main Drag… and Then a Side Street

The main street in San Giminano runs from Porta San Giovanni to the Piazza della Cisterna (Via San Giovanni) and then continues from the Piazza del Duomo to Porta San Matteo (Via San Giovanni).

These two streets are full of restaurants, wine bars, art exhibitions, and shops selling:

  • Clothing
  • Linens
  • Ceramics
  • Food products
  • Wine
  • Trinkets and souvenirs
  • Leather goods

Good To Know:  90% of visitors are on this main street and in the two main piazzas (del Duomo and della Cisterna).  If you want a break from the crowds, leave these areas and find a quiet street to stroll.

Sample San Gimignano’s Vernaccia Wine

When in Rome, right?  San Gimignano is the territory of the white wine, Vernaccia.  You can try it at wineries in the countryside around San Gimingnano, or stop in an enoteca (wine bar) in town. 

Check out a Torture Museum

Displays in museum of torture in Italy.

Yes, I know – this type of museum isn’t for everyone.  If you are curious, San Gimignano has one of the best torture museums in Italy (yes, there are many of them).  The 2-building torture museum in San Gimignano is a private collection and there are many authentic items (all behind glass). 

I’ve been in multiple torture museums and I find this to be one of the most interesting.

Explore the Town Hall Museum

Portraits hanging on a wall in San Gimignano's town hall museum.

While it may not be high on your list, the Museo Palazzo Comunale has some pieces/artifacts worth checking out, including:

  • Paintings that change when you walk past them
  • Armor, crossbow, war helmet, dagger

Check out Mini San Gimignano

Boys look at mini reproduction of San Gimignano inside a museum.
My boys checking out mini San Gimignano

Medieval San Giminiagno has been recreated in miniature in this tiny museum just behind the Torre Grossa.  Entrance is free (but you can make a donation or purchase something if you’d like). 

And, that’s our list!  I hope you find something on this list of things to do in San Gimignano that suits you and your group.  Enjoy your visit to San G!

Candice Criscione Avatar