Photo Tour: San Gimignano

Perched high on a hill mid-way between Florence and Siena, San Gimignano has a dramatic setting. But the old walled town is dramatic too. In fact, it's almost too perfect: you might feel a little like you've walked into Disneyland. Still, it's a fascinating place.

San Gimignano is famous for its towers. There are 13 now, but in medieval times there were 72. It's also famous for its tourists. My guidebook recommended coming in the winter -- preferably while it's raining -- to get a chance to wander and dream in relative peace. I was there on a weekday in mid-January: there were tourists, and a man directing traffic around the town, but I was able to walk down a lot of the streets and all around the outside city walls without seeing anyone. (You might think about doing the same thing in Florence. The museums and restaurants are open, but you don't have to struggle with floods of people -- as I did on my last visit in the summer.)

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Here are two views of the town. One is from the walk around the outside of the walls. The other is on a main street, where the holiday decorations were still strung:
From the north, outside city walls
On main street at the south side of town

Try the walk around the outside of the walls. You'll get great views of the beautiful Tuscan countryside around the town.
Norh side of town from outsidet he walls
Walk outside the walls
Outside the walls
Outside the walls

The side streets, where people live, are great places to wander. I wondered whether residents wished I'd stay on the main streets and give them a break from camera-toting tourists. But there was no way I could resist the lure of those twisty lanes with who-knows-what surprises around the next corner:
Off the beaten path
Off the beaten path

The main streets weren't exactly deserted -- even on a weekday in midwinter:
Shopping street
Shopping street

I have a hard time believing that the town looked quite this perfect when people lived here hundreds of years ago. Still, the perfect pavement and the spotless walls were attractive:
Tower and pazza Piazza

Yup, you're right: I like taking pictures through archways:
Through an arch
Looking through an archway

But the towers are the real spectacle around San Gimignano:
Towers Tower
Towers from top of hill
Tower and buildings

[Previous page: Siena Sampler]
[Tour start: Northern Italy, 2004] [Tours]

(These photographs are Copyright © 2004 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)

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