What to visit between Florence and Siena: short itinerary
There are an infinite number of places to visit and itineraries to follow between Florence and Siena. One of the most typical is the one that I present to you in this short guide. This is the classic itinerary to do in one day if you decide not to visit too many monuments and museums, thus making two places, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
If you are planning a tour of Tuscany, this itinerary can be an excellent option as an intermediate stop after visiting Florence and before going to Siena. The total route is just over 100 kilometers and includes two stages: San Gimignano and Monteriggioni.
San Gimignano, the city of towers
The first stop on this short itinerary is San Gimignano, which is located about 60 kilometers from Florence (an hour’s drive). San Gimignano is one of the most beautiful and well-known medieval villages in all of Italy and, in my opinion, it should not be missing from the stages of a tour in Tuscany. San Gimignano owes its fame above all to the numerous towers that still adorn it today. Today 14 are preserved but once there were many more; it is no coincidence that the city has been called the “New York of the Middle Ages”.
The whole village exudes history, art and culture. The Cathedral or Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, has a richly frescoed interior, with Stories from the New Testament attributed to the pictorial school of Simone Martini, and Stories from the Old Testament by Bartolo Fredi. Numerous other churches in San Gimignano are worth a visit: Sant’Agostino, Santo Bartolo, San Jacopo, the remains of the Franciscan convent, San Girolamo, the Madonna dei Lumi.
Inside the Palazzo Comunale, in the Dante room there is a cycle of frescoes with a chivalrous-courtly theme. In the building you can visit the Civic Museum, with works by Memmo di Filippuccio, Azzo di Masetto and Lippo Memmi, and the Pinacoteca, which contains several works belonging to the Sienese fourteenth century. Climbing the tower you can admire a splendid panoramic view of San Gimignano.
The village also houses a Wine Museum, inside the Villa della Rocca di Montestaffoli. In the museum you can discover the history of San Gimignano wine with videos, panels, olfactory and visual perceptions, and take advantage of excellent tastings, with the guidance of an expert sommelier.
Monteriggioni and its famous medieval walls
The second stop is Monteriggioni, another village of medieval origin, enclosed within the walls. Its imposing walls are famous because it inspired a passage from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, in canto XXXI of the Inferno. It is possible to walk along two sections of the ancient walls on the walkways, from which you can enjoy a beautiful panorama that ranges from the Val d’Elsa to the Chianti hills and the Montagnola Senese.
In the village there are some interesting things to see such as the Romanesque-Gothic church of Santa Maria Assunta and the “Monteriggioni in Arme” Museum, which houses faithful reproductions of medieval and Renaissance weapons and armor. In the surroundings I point out the Abbey of Santi Salvatore and Cirino, the Pieve di Santa Maria a Castello and the Hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago.
One of the main attractions is the medieval festival “Monteriggioni di Torri si Corona”, a folk festival with shows, music, costumes, acrobats, stalls, arts and crafts shops, which recreate the atmosphere of the village in medieval times, with an very suggestive. The medieval festival usually takes place between the end of June and the beginning of July.