We took a day trip to San Gimignano from Florence today. We took the regional bus that cost us 13.60 euros each to take the round trip. Tip for those who are taking bus day trips in Tuscany, get to the bus station early to buy your ticket and get on your bus. The bus is normally there early and the first people on it get the best seats ( if there are not enough seats you need to wait for the next bus which can be an hour later). This bus took us to a train station in the town of Poggibonsi, where we had to wait about a half hour for another bus that would take us to San Gimignano ( the trip to the city took about 2 hours).
It’s pretty easy to navigate the bus system, as a lot of it is automated. Many stops have electronic signs that announce expected arrivals and departures (but I suspect they’re just schedules, and if your bus is late it won’t be reflected on the sign). This one is at the transfer point in Poggibonsi, and gives the schedule time, route, destination, and boarding area for each bus expected soon.
San Gimignano is a medieval time capsule with 12 tower homes still in place. In the 11th through 12th century rich people built tall tower homes with few windows and wooden stairways. If they were attacked by other city states or sadly from other people in the town that they were feuding with, they burnt the stairway into the tower. As they ran up the ladders for each floor, they pulled the ladders up with them until they were in the stronghold in the top of the tower where they stayed hopefully safe from the bad guys. In the 12th and 13th centuries there were about 72 tower homes in the town. The Florentines attacked them in the 14th century and made them take down all but 12 towers . The black death came to the town and its population went from 13,000 people to about 4,000 people. The town never recovered but stayed in a medieval time warp. Now that time warp is the main tourist attraction. Here is the main city gates that we arrived at with the bus.
When you walk in the town it is like you are in the 14th century again. The buildings have remained the same ; some of them like the town hall were built in 1245 and they are still in use. Here are some photos; these two towers are the oldest remaining ones in SG. around the 10th century. They are still standing and you can even spend the night in one of the rooms, Most of the plazas had a well in the center for water when the town was under siege. Here is the well in the city hall. The tallest tower house that you can climb the 200 stairs to the top is called the Torre Grossa. It is 177 ft tall and was built in 1300. We decided to look at it from the bottom as I am afraid of heights. The Duomo or main church is called the Collegiata. It has a beautiful set of frescoes painted in the 14th century. We purchased a ticket and went into the church but they did not allow any photos inside. Here is a photo of the plain outside of the building. We had a late lunch in a restaurant recommended by Rick Steves called Locanda di Sant,Agostino. We had the sausage pizza which is like a tortilla with cheese, tomato sauce and a little bit of sausage on it. But it was filling and the service was good. Here is David tasting the white wine that the town is famous for. When you walk off the main street into the side streets you can almost imagine you are in the 14th century. Here are some photos; This is a hill town and so there were wonderful views of the Tuscan landscape like this one; The bus rides home took only 1.5 hours and we were quite happy to see our little apartment in Florence.