San Gimignano is famous not only for its towers: there’s much more to discover! The Duomo, museums, art, culture and…wine! Here’s what to see in the Medieval Manhattan in order to appreciate the village at full.
Let’s start from the most tasty information: San Gimignano is home of many famous Tuscan dishes, all made with products cultivated around the area. One of these precious goods is saffron, which has been collected since 1200. Saffron is obtained from a plant called Crocus Sativus and can be found all around San Gimignano area - it boasts the DOP etiquette (Denomination of Protected Origin). During the Middle Ages saffron was considered a prodigious plant and made many families rich - we’re talking about the ones who then built the famous towers of the village.This product was not only used in the kitchen, but also for pharmaceutical purposes and for painting. If you’d like to taste some typical dish, try maiale allo zafferano (saffron pork) followed by zuccotto allo zafferano (a dessert made with chocolate, sponge cake and saffron). You can also try the wide range of Tuscan soups, they’re all incredibly tasty and will warm you up in winter time!
Vernaccia di San Gimignano
If we talk about food we need to mention drinks as well, don’t we? Well, you need to know that San Gimignano is the producer of one of the most well-known white wines of the region: Vernaccia. There are strict rules to produce it: first of all the Vernaccia grapes need to be at least 85% of the entire production, which can be mixed with a maximum of 15% of white non-aromatic grape varieties. Sauvignon and Riesling can compose only 10% of the blend. If you want to know more about Vernaccia you can check our “food-wine pairing” article, in which we deal with the most famous Tuscan wines and their best food matches.
Duomo and Cappella di Santa Fina
The first architectural beauty which should be visited is San Gimignano’s Duomo. The facade was built in the XII century and is in the Romanesque style. The interiors are divided into three naves full of frescos and works of art that deserve a guided tour. The transept hosts a 1200 wooden crucifix still in great conditions. Talking about the Chapel inside the Duomo, it host some of Ghirlandaio’s frescos. The artist tells the story of Santa Fina who, after her mother death, decided to spend her life lying on a wooden table and praying. Her death was announced by San Gregorio Magno in a dream and her body was eaten by rats and worms. During the funeral three miracles took place: her old nanny palsy was cured, a blind child started to see again and the bells were rang by angels. Whether you believe in this story or not, the chapel is beautiful and the frescos uniques.
There are two main museums in San Gimignano: the Civic Museum and the Torture one. Both are worth visiting, but the Torture Museum may be the most unusual one. The place is divided in two areas: the first one shows the methods of torture used worldwide and hosts the original machines, pictures and description panels. The second sector is the most discussed one, because it deals with death penalty. The atmosphere is creepy and dark, it definitely leaves its mark on visitors!
Guess what? You can visit San Gimignano, Siena, Monteriggioni and the beautiful Chianti area in just one day! Have a look at our website and choose the Tour that best matches with your needs!