Today, I’m sharing our tips for visiting San Gimignano with kids.
After our 3 night stay in Lake Bled, Slovenia, we packed up our car and drove down to Tuscany.
We met up with our friends for the week at a villa we rented in Montaione, a small town about an hour outside of Florence.
We’ve visited Italy many times over the years, but this was our first time in Tuscany (unless you count my 24 hour bar crawl through Florence when I was in college. I don’t.).
I’d seen the area so many times on TV and in movies that I thought I had a pretty good idea of what to expect, but NO. Tuscany absolutely blew us away.
The rolling green vineyards, the neat lines of cypress trees, the bright blue sky and fluffy white clouds, the grand golden villas lined with wooden shutters and rod-iron light fixtures. It was idyllic. Tyler and I couldn’t believe it as we were driving in.
In today’s post, I am going to share our thoughts on visiting Tuscany with kids as well as talk about our day trip to San Gimignano, Italy.
I wrote out a little one day itinerary for San Gimignano that includes a park the girls loved, an amazing lookout point, where we ate lunch (and–most importantly–gelato), and the kid-friendly winery that we visited outside of town in the afternoon.
We had such a good time in Tuscany. We spent time in Florence, San Gimignano, and Sienna, all of which we LOVED.
One thing about Tuscany with kids is that everything is very spread out. We had to drive 30-60 minutes (sometimes more) to get anywhere. Our girls did okay with this because we tried to time at least one of each day’s drives with their naps, but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it.
If you are going to visit Tuscany with kids, I recommend staying in one of the bigger towns. If we were to do the trip over again, that’s what we would do too. Staying in a villa in the Tuscan countryside was a bucket list experience that I wouldn’t trade, but it was a lot of driving for the kids.
Even our villa was a five minute drive into town which was not totally ideal. When we are traveling with the girls, we’ve learned that we prefer to stay within walking distance to parks, coffee shops, the beach, etc. This makes the experience so much more enjoyable, as opposed to packing everyone up for the day and driving an hour to wherever it is you want to explore. Day trips are great, but it’s nice to have your home base be close to stuff too.
If you are going to visit Tuscany with kids, I recommend staying in a town or within walking distance to a town. San Gimignano would be a GREAT option.
(Also, if you’re planning a Europe trip with small kids, don’t miss my list of 30 tips for doing just that).
Our day in San Gimignano was one of the highlights of our time in Tuscany.
San Gimignano is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the best preserved medieval towns in Italy. The town is enclosed by 13th century walls and full of gothic architecture and looming towers. Like many of our favorite towns in Europe, San Gimignano feels like it’s been frozen in time.
The old town area is small and can be easily conquered in a day. We got there around 8am and had the town to ourselves. Some of my favorite travel memories are exploring a town before anyone else is out and about, and this was no exception. The girls had so much fun climbing all of the stairs and running through the terracotta-colored alleyways.
Later that morning, we met up with our friends. We had a fabulous lunch and gelato (I won’t tell you what order) and walked around some more. Then, we drove over to Pietraserena Winery nearby which was such a fun experience–more on that below.
To our surprise and delight, San Gimignano was much more stroller-friendly than expected, making this an enjoyable day for everyone. There are some stairs here and there, but for the most part it was easily walkable with our strollers. San Gimignano is a very “hilly” town, and of course it’s all cobblestones, but it really was quite easy to navigate with the strollers. Also, there are very limited cars within the city which was super nice. There is even an elevator near the “parcheggio” that leads right into the old town area which was super helpful.
I recommend heading to San Gimignano early in order to experience the quiet magic of old town before things get busy. We had so much fun exploring all of the little alleyways, staircases, and lookout points. The girls were enthralled by the towers, and Tyler and I could not get over the views of Tuscany beyond the town.
One thing about me is that I will never write a family-focused travel guide without including a coffee stop (or two, or three) for the parents. Enjoy a pastry and espresso at Bar Le Torri, and thank me later.
Begin your tour in the Piazza del Duomo and the Piazza della Cisterna which are right next to each other in the heart of old town. Every alleyway sparks joy in San Gimignano, so let yourself get lost.
After meandering through the center of old town, make your way over to the Parco della Rocca where you can walk through the fortress ruins. The lookout point next to the San Gimignano Wine Experience is jaw dropping.
Then, take your kiddo(s) down to Parco Giochi which is just down the steps from that lookout point. Maybe send your husband over to Pasticceria “Il Criollo” for your second espresso of the morning–I won’t judge you.
We ate lunch at Bar Ristorante Boboli. We didn’t choose a restaurant for lunch in advance, so we were all kind of wandering in and out of places, trying to find a spot that would have a big area for all of our strollers and kids (we had 5 under 5 with us!). Fortunately, we landed on Bar Ristorante Boboli. They set us up in the back room with all of our babies and gear and were SO sweet. The food was AMAZING, and they had a bunch of great options for the kids (one of the best perks about traveling in Italy with small kids).
And, of course, no trip to San Gimignano is complete without a scoop or three from the iconic Gelateria Dondoli.
After lunch and car/stroller naps, we drove over to Pietraserena Winery which is just outside of San Gimignano. This place was such a hit and perfect for families. The wines were incredible, and the views off the patio could have been from a movie.
The winery had a little playground and a bunch of farm animals that all of the kids absolutely loved. We all kind of took turns watching the kids at the playground and drinking wine. Even a huge rainstrom rolling through couldn’t kill our vibe (and even added to the magic!).
San Gimignano is such a special town, and I definitely recommend as a “must stop” on any Tuscany itinerary.
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It’s a pre-weekend pick me up: just a little note with links to the latest blog posts, what I’m reading lately, and products I’m obsessed with. Think of it as a friend dropping off a surprise latte in the morning--you know?