Staying at my Bed and Breakfast in Chianti, in the medieval village of San Donato in Poggio, is the perfect starting point for daytrips to experience the history, food and wine, landscapes and villages in this part of Tuscany, bordering on Florence and Siena.
Palazzo Malaspina B&B to San Gimignano: a not-to-be-missed trip immersed in Tuscan history
San Gimignano, about 20 minutes away from Palazzo Malaspina, deserves special attention. It is the perfect destination for those who may have only half a day to discover this Tuscan gem and art city.
Looking out from some of the rooms at my Bed and Breakfast on clear mornings, in the distance you can see the unique profile of San Gimignano on the Chianti hills. There is no better way to start the day, especially when paired to one of the truly magical moments during your stay: breakfast. Each morning you will taste a delicious and different cake that I make myself and serve personally to my guests!
San Gimignano is a medieval city known all over the world and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Tuscany. Even from a distance, it is instantly visible with its 14 towers. At the height of its grandeur, there were 72 towers, one for each noble family (that were powerful due to the wealth generated by the Via Francigena, the main road through the city). San Gimignano has been called the “Manhattan of the Middle Ages” and today is still one of the finest examples in Europe of urban organization in the Age of Communes. Its historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Start at the B&B and experience an unforgettable emotion
In the morning, after a relaxing night in one of the charming rooms at Palazzo Malaspina, you will delight in an abundant breakfast. Then, leaving San Donato in Poggio and following the hilly road to San Gimignano, immersed in the rolling Tuscan hills, the unique profile of the city bristling with towers will suddenly appear and the effect will be simply thrilling!
I always advise my guests to walk slowly through the streets to better appreciate the ancient atmosphere. All streets lead to the beautiful, thirteenth-century Piazza della Cisterna, which is the market place and, at one time, the stage for festivities and tournaments. The Piazza is triangular in shape and surrounded by medieval houses and towers. The monumental travertine well is in the center of the Piazza.
I recommend sitting down and perhaps sipping a cup of tea or a glass of wine, accompanied by Cinta Senese cold cuts and Pecorino cheese. Take the time to admire all the details of everything that surrounds you and soon you will imagine that time has stopped in the Middle Ages, and you will hear the sound of horses hooves on the ancient cobble stone streets in the background.
Just behind Piazza della Cisterna, at the top of a wide staircase, appears the majestic 10th century Romanesque Cathedral where, in the Santa Fina Chapel, you can admire frescoes by Ghirlandaio and Benozzo Gozzoli.
San Gimignano is also famous for its numerous shops in the historic center, many of which are very near Piazza della Cisterna. Ceramics and handmade leather products are the typical local crafts.
Who has never sipped a glass of the famous Vernaccia white wine? It is produced on the hills around San Gimignano from exclusive vines native to the area. The precious saffron is also produced here as well as Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
San Gimignano is a top destination for thousands of visitors and often it is over crowded. It really would be better to visit at dusk, when many people have returned to their accommodations, and then dine in one of the many restaurants where you can taste the best of typical Tuscan cuisine, classic appetizers like bruschetta, salamis and cheeses, the famous Pici, large handmade pasta, and the tasty meat dishes flavored with saffron or Vernaccia wine sauces.
My guests are very happy to return to Palazzo Malaspina B&B after a beautiful, but tiring day that has gratified all their senses as well as their hearts, to the relaxing calm of San Donato, the small borgo del Chianti that boasts a single tower, but is much more tranquil!