San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa Tour
San Gimignano historic centre
Medieval town hall
Stop at the organic farm
Colle di Val d’Elsa historic centre
Duration of the tour: 2/4 hours
Suitable for children: yes
Accessibility for different ables: no at the Montestaffoli Fortress
Difference in level: 70 metres
Further information at the bottom (or click here)
One of the most beautiful medieval villages in Europe
San Gimignano walking tour enables you to know one of the most beautiful villages in Europe, in the Province of Siena. Centre of commerce and halting-place for pilgrims and writers – just 30km from Siena –, the village is today famous for its wine and, above all, for its ancient towers which make its profile unmistakable among the surrounding hills.
We will start with our route from the Porta San Giovanni, ancient access to the historic centre which is still flanked by the 13th-century walls. The path that will open before us is still animated by souvenir and craft shops; in medieval times this was the obligatory route for pilgrims and wayfarers on the Via Francigena route. Entering the core of the town, you will be enveloped in the enchantment of Piazza della Cisterna which, thanks to the towers still surrounding it, is an exceptionally suggestive space, capable of evoking in your mind, along with the adjacent Piazza del Duomo, images of the times where these streets and squares were frequented by merchants and poets. From Piazza della Cisterna we move on with San Gimignano walking tour reaching Piazza del Duomo, where we can visit the beautiful Collegiate Church of San Gimignano.
Discover the charm of the Collegiate
In spite of the sobriety of its façade, the interior of the church is decorated with frescoes – of exquisite workmanship – made by artists of the 14th-century Sienese Painting school. As an alternative to the Collegiate, it is certainly worth visiting the ancient Palazzo Comunale (the town Hall), a medieval building which, in addition to hosting the rich Pinacoteca, is where we will be able to discover the secrets behind the love-themed frescoes in the Camera del Podestà. Visiting the ancient Camera del Consiglio (the Council Chamber) – decorated with images of knights and tournaments –, we will see where the poet Dante Alghieri gave an important political speech in the early 14th-century; here you will have the sensation of being able to relive the times when these rooms were intended for assemblies for the city government.
Visit the highest tower of San Gimignano
Another suggestive place to see in San Gimignano is the so-called Torre Grossa which, with its fifty-four meters high, allows you to enjoy a breathtaking view of the village of San Gimignano and all the surrounding area.
San Gimignano walking tour then continues through the streets of the historic centre; if you have not visited the Torre Grossa – or if you have visited it but you are still eager to enjoy panoramic views – we will go to visit the Rocca di Montestaffoli, a medieval fort that was used to control the village. From here, climbing for free on one of the castle towers, you can take beautiful pictures of the city towers. Descending from the hill of the fortress, we walk again the streets of the centre until we reach the Sant’Agostino Church.
Free access to this religious building enables you to appreciate masterpieces of renowned Florentine artists who worked here in the second half of the 15th-century, such as Benozzo Gozzoli –refined painter, a pupil of Beato Angelico – and Benedetto da Maiano.
Once the visit of the historical centre is over, it will be time to take a well-deserved break; what I propose for lunch is a stop at an organic farm, located a few kilometres outside the centre. If desired, there is the opportunity to make – on requests – a guided tour of both the vineyards and the cellars; then what you can do is taste the dishes and wines of the same farm.
Detail of Piazza della Cisterna
The striking internal environment of the Collegiata Church
The taste of Vernaccia
Among the wines, Vernaccia, the DOCG white wine of San Gimignano, is obviously the most prominent – the first one to obtain the DOC denomination in 1966. After lunch, I propose to discover another village in the province of Siena. It is a place that, unfortunately, is not known and appreciated as San Gimignano but it is absolutely worth visiting: the village I am talking about is Colle di Val d’Elsa. This charming town stands on the banks of the Elsa river of the same name and, during the Middle Ages, it was the subject of contention between the ancient rival cities of Florence and Siena. Its historic centre stands out for having preserved intact its ancient appearance with its towers and alleys that make it a village to be discovered by the less superficial tourist.
The visit of Colle di Val d’Elsa
We begin the tour of Colle di Val d’Elsa from the square dedicated to its most illustrious citizen: Arnolfo di Cambio, great sculptor and architect of the 13th-century who was the author of the former project of the Florence Cathedral. To reach the upper part of the town – the one preserving the most of historic and artistic heritage of Colle – we pass through a tunnel which, using a medieval link, was transformed by the French contemporary architect Jean Nouvel into a suggestive path to reach the upper area.
Of Colle alta (the high area of the city) we visit the Cathedral, a 16th-century building that preserves important paintings by Sienese artists, the Porta Campana, a jewel of Renaissance architecture, and the Porta Salis, one of the most significant examples of military architecture of the late Quattrocento, work by Florentine architects. We will conclude our San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa walking tour with a visit to the Crystal Museum; that of the crystal is a very delicate and complex process of which Colle boasts 95% of the national production and 15% of the world production.
But the colligiana crystal manifacturing is not only quantitative since what we can discover in the museum is a magnificent series of masterpieces – temporarily exhibited in the Palazzo dei Priori – that came out from the laboratories of expert craftsmen who still retain the secrets of this truly special art.
So, are you ready to leave for this exciting journey between art and history?
Renaissance altar in Sant’Agostino Church
Panoramic view of Colle di Val d’Elsa
Porta Salis Colle di Val d’Elsa
Important information about the tour (click here)
This tour can also be booked in combination with the other tours and hiking routes available on Florence and Siena which can be consulted in the Menu, or the duration can be customised by including a visit to the inside of the monuments the client wants to see.
The activity proposed here is not a pre-organised tour but a private tour that is carried out on request of individuals or groups organised with a tourist agency and can be customised for starting time, meeting place and duration. depending on the customer’s needs.
Duration of the private guided tour of San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa
The duration of San Gimignano tour can be 2 or 4 hours (time of the transfer apart). With a 2-hour tour we can visit the historic centre of San Gimignano and, optionally, one of the monuments between the Collegiate Church, the Town Hall, the Oratory of San Lorenzo al Ponte or the Church of Sant’Agostino.
With the 4-hour tour we can visit San Gimignano and the historic centre, as well as Colle di Val d’Elsa. The stop at the farm mentioned in the description of the itinerary only must be understood as a proposal but is not planned in the cost of the tour since it is an external service. The guide limits itself to suggesting places where a lunch break can take place but, as he is not a tourist agency, he cannot provide a lunch or tasting reservation service at a facility. The lunch break or tasting of typical products therefore can be done by the client.
Cost of the San Gimignano private guided tour
The rate for a 2-hours private guided tour is 110.00 € (price in total and not per person), for 4 hours 200.00 € (always price in total and not per person).
These rates are applied to individuals and small groups of up to 9 people. For groups of more than 9 people see the rates page. The tour can be booked by writing an email, calling or texting the guide (also via Whatsapp or Telegram) to check availability for the requested day. Payment for the tour can be made after the guided tour by card, bank transfer or cash.
It is the responsibility of the guide to guarantee the guide service in any case. If, even for personal reasons, the guide is unable to perform the service in the date set with the client, it will be his concern to contact a trusted colleague who can replace him and therefore guarantee the customer service.
The cancellation of the tour from the client can be done free of charge by giving timely notice to the guide. If the cancellation is made by the customer when there are less than 48 hours before the date agreed for the service, the customer is required to pay a penalty equal to 100% of the tour amount that was agreed.
In the event that the customer has paid in advance for the tour, the sum will be fully refunded by the guide if the cancellation is made before 48 hours from the date and time agreed for the tour.
If, on the other hand, the cancellation occurs when there are less than 48 hours before the scheduled date and time, the sum paid is not refunded.
Radio rental compulsory from 6 people onwards
From 6 people onwards, to facilitate listening to the guide explanations and ensuring social distancing outdoors and indoors, it is strictly recommended to rent radio devices with transmitters that ensure perfect listening to the explanations of the guide even from a distance; if then we visit the inside of the monuments, the rental of radios is compulsory for 4 or more people. The service is booked by the guide when the guided tour is requested, but the rental cost, which is € 1.00 per person for 2 or 3 hours, is charged to the customer and can be paid directly to the guide who will then take care to pay the supplier.
Carers or teachers of school groups do not pay for the rental of the radio.
Opening hours Collegiata San Gimignano:
Opening hours civic Museums of San Gimignano:
Town Hall, San Lorenzo in Ponte Oratory, Santa Fina ancient Apothecary, Modern art Gallery, Archeological Museum (the latter 3 temporarily closed)
Opening hours Sant’Agostino Church:
Opening time can suffer changes
Ticket price Collegiata San Gimignano
Tickets price Civic Museums
The ticket price of the Collegiate Church, Civic Museums or San Gimignano Pass is not included in the tour rate. Access to the Sant’Agostino Church is for free.
The guide does not provide private transport service, which entails the client needs to reach the meeting point established in the route on his own.
To get the contact of a licensed driver who provides private transfer service, as well as getting further information about the tour, please write to:
How to reach San Gimignano and Colle di Val d'Elsa?
Reachable via the A1 motorway (Siena-Bettolle Valdichiana exit if coming from Rome; Firenze-Impruneta exit if coming from Milan; then continue towards Siena with the Bettolle-Siena or Florence-Siena connection, then exit at Poggibonsi Nord-San Gimignano or in Colle di Val d’Elsa Nord. The most convenient point to reach for the start of the tour is the Porta San Giovanni for San Gimignano, Piazza Arnolfo di Cambio or the Porta Vecchia car park for Colle di Val d’Elsa. Free park is available in Colle di Val d’Elsa in Piazza Porta Vecchia or in Via Pieve al Piano, alternatively there is a paying car park in Via Oberdan.
In San Gimignano there are paying car park lots near the historic centre, such as Montemaggio, (hourly rate: € 2.50 for the first hour, € 2.00 from the second hour onwards); Parking Giubileo (hourly rate € 1.50), or there is free park area in Via Don Minzoni.
By public Bus lines
To get to San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa by bus there are connections from Florence with extra-urban lines that go up to Poggibonsi with the Siena ordinaria 131 Line, (see here the timetables of buses departing from Florence for Poggibonsi; see here the timetables of the return buses from Poggibonsi to Florence).
From Poggibonsi train station it’s necessary to change bus and take line 130 Siena San Gimignano (see here the timetables of the buses departing from Siena and going to San Gimignano; see here the timetables of the return buses from San Gimignano to Poggibonsi and Siena. Bus Tickets can be purchased at the authorized dealers points in the bus station in Florence, Siena and Poggibonsi, as well as from tobacco shops and newspaper kiosks, at the automatic columns near the bus stops, or on the Autolinee toscane website.
San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa can be reached by train with the Trenitalia service, thanks to the regional lines. Once arrived at the Poggibonsi railway station, San Gimignano or Colle di Val d’Elsa are reachable from there:
Colle di Val d’Elsa can be reached from Poggibonsi via the Siena ordinaria 131 Line coming from Florence or Siena (see here the timetables of buses departing from Florence for Poggibonsi; see here the timetables of the return buses from Poggibonsi to Florence).
San Gimignano can be reached from Poggibonsi via the Siena San Gimignano Line 130 (see here the timetables of the buses departing from Siena and going to San Gimignano; see here the timetables of the return buses from San Gimignano to Poggibonsi).
The same line must be taken on the way back from San Gimignano to reach Poggibonsi or to reach Siena (see above for timetables and bus lines for San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa). For a real-time consultation, visit the Autolinee toscane website.
Unless someone is coming from a city other than Siena or Florence, the most convenient and fastest way to reach San Gimignano and Colle di Val d’Elsa by public transportation, in order to avoid the constant changes of means, remains by bus.
By Taxi service
For info on the Taxi service in San Gimignano and Poggibonsi area click here
Organised groups/squadrons by tourist coach
|For organised groups/squadrons by tourist coach, there are drop-off/drop-on points for passengers in the urban centre of San Gimignano (click here to view the points). Tourist coaches are subject to the payment of a checkpoint (further information by clicking here).|
|There are areas dedicated to Autocaravans in Colle di Val d’Elsa and San Gimignano. For info on the camper areas in Colle di Val d’Elsa click here. For more info on the camper areas of San Gimignano click here|