Is San Gimignano worth Visiting?

San Gimignano and its surroundings are well worth a visit to enjoy both historical monuments and taste great wines. This town situated on the Via Francigena represents a pleasant stop for pilgrims directed to Rome in the Middle Ages and present visitors looking for ancient medieval towns in Tuscany.

San Giminiano
Beautiful San Giminiano Tuscany, Italy – Source

 

Discover the medieval heart of San Gimignano.

Founded by Etruscans in the III century BC, San Gimignano turned into a fortified town during the Middle Ages, when numerous towers (up to 72!) where erected. If you come from the valley, you will notice the skyline of San Gimignano, dotted with the 13 towers left and palaces dating back to the thirteenth century built by important families to celebrate their power.

San Gimignano enjoyed maximum economical and political glory till the fourteenth century, that’s why you can still admire many historical buildings from the Middle Ages but also new monuments built at the end of the nineteenth century during the Gothic Renovation period.

The city centre being situated on a hill, you will have the chance to take scenic views of the Tuscan landscape, in particular if you have a walking tour along the city walls overlooking the unique panorama of Valle d’Elsa. If you enter the city by one of the gates, the main street will lead you directly to the heart of the medieval San Gimignano. As an example you may start the tour from Porta San Giovanni walking through Via San Giovanni and reach Piazza della Cisterna, the wonderful square dominated by a well, red brick palaces and the impressive Devil’s Tower.

You will find other beautiful point of interests at the adjacent Piazza Duomo: Palazzo Comunale (the City Hall), Palazzo Salvucci, Palazzo Chigi Useppi, Palazzo Vecchio and Torre Rognosa.

If you have an appetite for excellent Italian wines, the tour continues in cellars and wine bars…

Vernaccia di San Giminiano, a unique wine of Tuscany.

Gourmet travellers find San Gimignano to be the perfect place to taste DOC wines – Vernaccia, San Gimignano Rosso and Rosato, Vin Santo, Chianti Colli Senesi – whose grapes come directly from the hundred Tuscan vineyards that you may observe along the way from Florence.

Reach San Gimignano to taste wines praised by artists and poets such as Francesco Redi and Michelangelo Buonarroti. In his L’Aione, Michelangelo describes Vernaccia wine as follows: “It kisses, leaks, bites, pricks, and stings”. Actually, this delicate white wine gained DOCG recognition in 1993 and is characterized by a fruity flavour that will catch your senses.

Much of the wine history and production can be learned at the dedicated Vernaccia Wine Museum located in Villa della Rocca di Montestaffoli on a hilly position overlooking the vineyards. At the Vernaccia Wine Museum you can book a wine tasting workshop and a tour that will help to appreciate the essence of this wine which boasts a production of 9 million bottles per year, sold in Italy and abroad.

A travel to San Gimignano represents a joy for curious eyes and fine palates!

If you want to get to San Gimignano from Emilia Romagna, the best way is to catch a train from Bologna or Pisa directed to Siena, stop at Poggibonsi station, then take the bus to San Gimignano.

 

© Valentina Grassiccia

 

Montalcino Wine Tour from Florence or Siena

Rosso and Brunello di Montalcino wine estate visits

wine in tuscany
ash barrels with 2011 Brunello di Montalcino

Montalcino is a pretty hill top town in the province of Siena Tuscany. It takes about 2 hours from Florence and 1 hour from Siena to get there, so it makes an ideal day trip from one of these 2 main towns.

The main attraction of Montalcino is its world renowned red wine. As many traditional Tuscan wines the main grape used here is the Sangiovese variety which produces 2 main wines: Brunello di Montalcino DOC and Rosso di Montalcino. The latter is normally a younger wine with lots of freshness and berry tones. The regulation of the consortium to make Rosso di Montalcino are less strict compared to the Brunello, in fact Rosso di Montalcino will spend only one year in the wooden barrels before bottling.

The real king of the these gentle and sunny hills is Brunello di Montalcino. The wine is aged at least 5 years in large oak or hash barrels. Compared to its younger version it has more complexity and structure. Sometimes it has mineral and pleasantly bitter tones and it is the perfect match for meat dishes such as the succulent heavy weight Fiorentina but also recommended with Pecorino di Pienza, or the peppery prosciutto toscano.

Abbadia Ardenga and Altesino winery

During our tour we would recommend to visit 2 wineries in the area such as Abbadia Ardenga and Altesino winery. The former is an ancient 15th Century fortified abbey with secret underground passages and a passion for wine making dating back several centuries. Here at the winery you will taste 4 wines with the accompaniment of local food. Our tour will continue to another nearby wine estate namely: Altesino Winery. Here our guests will have Tuscan style lunch which will include tasting of Rosso di Montalcino and Brunello. The lunch ends with Torta della Nonna accompanied with Vin Santo.
Upon request we can also visit the town of Montalcino with a qualified guide to discover the history of this beautiful hill top fortified settlement. Our guests can also learn about the disputes between Florence and Siena for dominance during the renaissance.

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Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.

Not far from Montalcino, and a easy reach from Siena it is also possible to visit wineries making vino nobile di Montepulciano made nearby in the homonymous town. The noble wine of Montepulciano is also made from Sangiovese grapes (minimum 70%) and aged 2 years or 3 years for the reserve. For those looking for a younger wine it is also possible to taste Rosso di Montepulciano, which is less sophisticated yet easily enjoyed on it own or with a light lunch.

Pecorino di Pienza.

Many foodies know Pecorino very well for its fragrant spiciness and full body. Pienza not far from Siena and Montalcino is another gourmet destination where interested travellers can visit the production of this cheese which is aged for at least 90 days in barriques of ash wood.
For those interested in food and wine tour from Florence and Siena, the area has plenty to offer. The main dedication of the area is red wine which can be matched with cheese and ham experiences. However In Tuscany the wineries are the one which should be of main interested of the food traveller, of course with the possibility to match the experience with local food such as the wonderful Fiorentina steak.

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vin santo grapes in Italy