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Reserva Naturale Montenero to San Gimignano

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  • Approaching trail to San Gimignano
    Approaching trail to San Gimignano
    Photo: Sally Thompson, Macs Adventure
m 600 500 400 300 200 100 20 18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 km
This rural walk takes you through nature reserves and ancient villages before climbing up to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of San Gimignano.
Distance 21.2 km
6:50 h
488 m
547 m
609 m
186 m
Starting with a transfer from the bus station in Volterra, you will be dropped off just outside the hamlet of Ulignano (Riserva Naturale Montenero). From here this is a beautiful day’s walking with varied terrain and stunning scenery. Walk through woodland and the Castelvecchio Nature Reserve, then through vineyards on the strada bianchi. As you come closer and closer to your final destination, views of majestic San Gimignano with its imposing towers soon dominate the horizon. 

Author’s recommendation

Be sure to stop on route at the Fattoria San Donato in the delightful Medieval village of San Donato. Here they sell local produce, including wine. It is also at this point where you can see your first views of towers of San Gimignano. A great spot for your picnic lunch.
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Macs Adventure
Update: September 26, 2022
Highest point
609 m
Lowest point
186 m
Best time of year

Track types

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Safety information

You will occasionally walk along secondary roads. They are not particularly busy, but please do take care and be attentive of oncoming traffic.

Tips and hints


Food & Drink ...

Volterra is well served with shops that will allow you to stock up for the day with food and water. Ask your hotel for directions to the nearest grocery shop. Although you are passing a few agriturismos on this route, most of them do not offer lunch so please make sure you take a packed lunch with you on this walk.


Alternative Transport ...

It is possible for your driver to drop you off further along the route should you wish to shorten your day’s walking. So instead of getting dropped off in Ulignano you can get dropped off in Sensano. If you choose to do this you will be reducing your walk by approximately 4km.  This is en route to San Gimignano and the driver will then continue on to there with your luggage. If you wish to skip today’s walking altogether you can continue in the taxi the whole way to San Gimignano. If you wish to take any of these options please give Bacci Travel as much notice as possible.


Some useful links ...


Riserva Naturale Montenero: A largely wooded landscape where the terrain has waterfalls and a deep gorge ( 


Castelvecchio Nature Reserve:


 (This route is used in the following itineraries: WItSClass and WItSClSB)


Gravel road at junction with signs for Agristurismo San Michele - Ulignano (you will be dropped off here by the transfer) (390 m)
43.427307, 10.913799
43°25'38.3"N 10°54'49.7"E
32T 654907 4810047


San Gimignano Tourist Information Centre

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00km - START POINT: Gravel road at junction with signs for Agristurismo San Michele- Ulignano (you will be dropped off here by transfer) Ignore signs for Agristurismo San Michele - Ulignano on your right and BEAR LEFT on gravel country road. Ignore any small side roads and continue to follow the gravel road STRAIGHT ON, walking through olive groves.

0.70km - BEAR RIGHT ignoring turning on left hand side for Agriturismo Cafaggiolo.

0.90km - Ignore small road on right and continue STRAIGHT ON ascending slightly

1.20km - Continue STRAIGHT ON on main gravel road ignoring faint paths on left. The road continues to ascend gently.

2.30km - Continue STRAIGHT ON on main gravel road ignoring small paths veering left and right.

3.10km - Remain on main gravel road, follow bend BEARING LEFT. After about 30m, ignore small road veering left and remain on main gravel road. After about 30m, ignore small road veering left and remain on main gravel road BEARING RIGHT and ascending.

4.00km - Arrive at a clearing on the road with agriturismo San Antonio on your right. There is a small footpath to a wonderful viewpoint on your left. Continue STRAIGHT ON. After about 30m, you will see signs and turning for Podere Rocco on your left. Ignore and continue STRAIGHT ON.

4.70km - You arrive at a junction. TURN RIGHT and join bigger asphalt road. The road is not particularly busy, but please do take care and be attentive of oncoming traffic.

5.50km - TURN LEFT off asphalt road following road sign for Cantiati. You will see a small car park to the right. BEAR LEFT almost immediately following the small, descending gravel path.

6.50km - Continue on gravel path BEARING RIGHT. Ignore small gravel path bearing left which passes through some ruined buildings.

6.70km - Ignore steep dirt track on right, continue on gravel path BEARING LEFT and descending.Then ignore side paths and continue STRAIGHT ON.

7.80km - Come to a clearing in the woodland. Ignore small path going right and continue on gravel path BEARING LEFT and descending.

8.80km - BEAR LEFT Ignoring path on right. Continue STRAIGHT ON till you arrive at a small junction in path and take a SHARP RIGHT TURN onto slightly narrower path. Pass small sign on right giving information about the RN (Riserva Naturale). WATCH OUT for this turning as it could be easy to miss! You are now entering the Nature Reserve of Castelvecchio.

9.50km - Continue STRAIGHT ON descending slightly, ignore ascending path on left.

10.50km - BEAR LEFT and ignore small path on right which is signed with red marks on trees. There is also a small memorial on your right here. If there has recently been rain, beware of very muddy clay path here, walking poles are very useful for this section.

11.80km - TURN RIGHT, ignoring garden entrance straight ahead. Continue along path with the stone wall to your left.

12.00km - At Junction, BEAR LEFT on path. Follow small red and white signs for footpath to San Dontato and San Gimignano (TR 18.19).

13.00km - Continue STRAIGHT ON descending, pass small car park on left. 

13.60km - Reach the main road. TURN RIGHT here. Continue along road carefully (be wary of traffic), following small red and white sign for footpath to San Gimignano. After approx. 10m TURN LEFT onto small single track asphalt road. Continue on this into San Donato.

13.90km - Take a SHARP RIGHT TURN following signs for Voltrona onto a small descending strada biancha (white/gravel road). 

15.30km - Fattoria Voltrona is on your left. Continue on the gravel road BEARING LEFT. Follow sign for footpath to San Gimignano on your right. Shortly after this, arrive at a small junction, ignore road bearing right for Laghetto Pond and continue STRAIGHT ON ascending slightly, follow the path as it swings left. Pass guesthouse and swimming pool on your right. If you look to your left you have impressive views to San Gimignano in the distance.

16.00km - Come to end of gravel path, there is a private house on your right. Continue STRAIGHT ON on a faint grassy path with vineyards on your left and olive groves on your right. The path can be muddy here.

16.20km - BEAR LEFT and ignore faint trail to right. Ignore faint grassy path straight ahead which is ascends steeply. Continue to BEAR LEFT then BEAR RIGHT to follow the faint grassy/rocky and wide path which ascends between vineyards.

16.50km - TURN RIGHT at top of climb, after about 10m, you will join a gravel road and continue STRAIGHT ON ignoring any small side roads.

17.40km - At junction, ignore road on right signposted for Il Piano and BEAR LEFT. After a few meters, take a SHARP LEFT onto a descending small asphalt road, following small red and white footpath signs for San Gimignano.If you look straight ahead you will catch more impressive glimpses of San Gimignano and its towers on the hill.

17.90km - After crossing the small bridge, ascend slightly BEARING LEFT. Pass Agriturismo Polveraia on your right.

19.00km - Continue following the road STRAIGHT ON, ascending.

19.60km - TURN RIGHT at junction joining the main road. It is not too busy but please do take care.

20.00km - Join pavement and continue STRAIGHT ON. There is a car/bus park to your left. Very soon after, reach a roundabout and BEAR LEFT, following road signs for Tourist Information.Remain on this tree-lined street which is adjacent to the road.

20.70km - Carefully cross zebra crossing, ascend half a dozen steps and come into Piazzale Martiri Montemaggio (a kind of sculpture park). You will see the city walls in front of you. Continue STRAIGHT ON towards them. Again, carefully cross at zebra crossing, enter the historic town through the Porta San Giovanni, follow signs for Tourist Information and continue straight ahead on Via San Giovanni.

21.10km - You will come into Piazza Della Cisterna. Continue STRAIGHT ON into Piazza Duomo.

21.20km - TURN LEFT upon entering the Piazza Duomo and the Tourist Information centre is on your left. FINISH POINT: Tourist information centre.


all notes on protected areas


43.427307, 10.913799
43°25'38.3"N 10°54'49.7"E
32T 654907 4810047
Arrival by train, car, foot or bike


Please be prepared by taking all necessary items. For example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants) and a sun hat and sunscreen (particularly essential during the hotter months).

Questions and answers

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Kenny Meganck
August 30, 2020 · Community
When did you do this route? August 30, 2020

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21.2 km
6:50 h
488 m
547 m
Highest point
609 m
Lowest point
186 m
Scenic Linear route


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