San Gimignano, the Vernaccia, the medieval towers
San Gimignano is the more popular among many medieval borghi - boroughs - in Tuscany. Each one has its own castle, church and belltower, maybe a piece of the city walls. Most are in scenic locations, on a hilltop, like San Gimignano, but no one can boast so many towers, and the Vernaccia white wine. Approaching to it you don’t need much to imagine like medieval travellers and pilgrims were feeling, before reaching it on foot. The walls are intact, like the gates, the fort is there on the top, and the XIV century brick houses are the only ones that you see. Above all you see a cluster of tall, slender, unadorned stone towers, that create the unique San Gimignano skyline. Starting just as a fort on the Francigena, the main route between Rome and the rest of Europe, it grew quickly,making the best of thousands of merchants, and pilgrims who travelled to Rome. The towers and nice rich merchants mansion, two wonderful churches, and their works of art, all witness how the place was busy and rich for a long time.
We start in Colle Val d’Elsa, the Italian center of high quality crystal production, which makes most of the top Italian wine glasses. Perhaps because it's so close to the Chianti and to San Gimignano? We can include a visit to a crystal factory and see with what skill the crystal blowers masters handle molten crystal masses, and in few minutes create their works of arte, whether they are the most beautiful goblets, gleaming small statues, or funny useless object at times. Maybe not in a crystal glass, we begin our tastings near San Gimignano, in one of the finer family estates. Next we walk across the old gate into the medieval town. In the central street, where once wayfarers, farmers and pilgrims went by, now there is pilgrimage of people from the whole world, rows of boutiques of all kinds: craftworks, leather, salami, ceramics and of course Verbaccia wine. Here you can spend your time shopping, and/or looking at the historical places of this special town: La Collegiata church with its frescoes, St. Agostino, the old streets, and the Rocca, the old fort and stronghold, where you enjoy a 360° view of the countryside. The best view, almost, if you are in good enough shape, is there at the top of the city tower, a breathtaking, unforgettable bird’s eye view of the village, of the Valdelsa and of the Chianti Hills. When it’s time for lunch you can choose between, a winetasting with local cheeses and ham, a pizza, a real trattorìa or fine restaurants. In town, or if it’s too crowded, out in the countryside. In the afternoon, we visit two more wineries. A family size, organic winery where the wines are simple and fruity, and an upscale estate, lead by a top Italian winemaker, that makes wines richer, and with a kind of international style.
Our favourite Wineries
Cesani, Montenidoli, Panizzi, Mormoraia, San Donato, Casa alla Madonna, Casa alle Vacche, Guicciardini Strozzi, Pietrafitta, Torciano, Vagnoni, Pietraserena, Signano, Casal Falchini, Poggioalloro, Cappella di S. Andrea, Theruzzi & Puthod, Paradiso. The wines pproduced here are: Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Chianti Colli Senesi, IGTs.
COST of the DAYTRIP. Variable depending on the number of people, as on the mileage. Please click on Daytrips page for details, or tell us where you are lodging and how many you are, for a customized quote. Open Group Tours. NO fixed departure open groups, our tours are custom made. COST of the WINETASTINGS. You can plan that each tasting - not included in our guide service - can cost between € 6 and € 20/person.
Which wineries we go to, how many, how many wines, lunch is included, what schedule???? The IWT tours are really customized, not to compare with routine packages. Winetastings: 2 or 3 wineries is what we suggest, to allow time for sightseeing, lunch and shopping. If you want less or more tastings, let us know. If you already know which wineries you want, just let us know, otherwise we pick 3 very good ones, of different size and style. Each tasting can take 1 hr, and will include 3 to 6 wines. There will be more wines and longer tours in the bigger estates. Lunch is not included, there is all kind of choices and menus available. Service. Normally our driver is available 9 hrs, usually from 09:00 am to 06:00 pm, or later if you like in summertime.
The Vernaccia, one of the few Tuscan whites, and definitely the more famous, is made only in the San Gimignano town territory. Most vineyards are on yellow, sandy and clayey soils. When made in traditional style - no chardonnay - the wine is practically a varietal Vernaccia. Clean and dry, gently bitter, with high minerality, plenty of delicate white flower, and almond aromas and flavors. It is a great aperitivo, and a table wine that pairs well with vegetable, white meat. And, surprisingly with game like a wild boar stue too! As you can check when tasting the local cuisine. Yet the people, like every Tuscan, drink reds more than white, and as a red we find the Chianti Colli Senesi - not Classico - which is an extremely pleasant, balanced, fresh and not too heavy red wine, based, as usual on Sangiovese grapes.