From its imposing skyline of towers, it’s hard to miss.
It has been described by some guidebooks as the “Manhattan of Tuscany” once numbering 72 only 14 now remain today and still impressive.
These houses were built in aristocratic rivalry by the feuding nobles of the 12th and 13th centuries, evokes the appearance of medieval Tuscany more than any other sight.
In the Piazza Duomo you can see the Collegiata (The Cathedral) that has a simple facade which doesn’t prepare you for the remarkable frescoes which cover the walls inside depicting scenes from the Old and the New Testament.
This is one of the most comprehensively frescoed churches in Tuscany, with cycles of paintings filling every available space.
(Please note the Cathedral is closed to visitors during mass).
The Palazzo del Popolo, the other key component of Piazza Duomo, is also the entrance to the Museo Civico which is worth a visit to see samples of 12th and 15th Century frescoes.
For the energetic climb the 54 meters Torre Grosso for a spectacular view of the town and countryside.
This is the only one of San Gimignano’s towers which you can climb.
A signposted lane leads from Piazza Duomo up to the Rocca, the old fortress, with its one surviving tower and superb views.
Today it encloses an orchard-like public garden, with figs, olives and a central well.
Worth a visit even the Piazza della Cisterna, surrounded by a different selection of Palazzo’s and towers. The square is named after the 13th century public cistern, still functioning in the centre.
No cars are allowed in the centre of the town and traffic can be a little chaotic in summer months.
There are various “satellite” car parks outside the town and for the more distant ones there is a regular free shuttle bus.