culture, expat, history, travel, tuscany

Church of San Miniato al Monte .. possibly my favorite (free) place to visit..

this is perhaps a bit embaressing to admit but.. oh well here goes.. I have lived in Florence since 2007 and have NEVER been to the Chiesa di San Miniato al Monte above Piazzale Michelangelo until this January.. I know I know. Perhaps , like many others arriving at Piazza Michelangelo was high enough but I am so happy that we finally made it up there because wow.. what a VIEW!

view from san miniato al monte

leading up to the church

a little backstory on the church itself. St. Minias was by tradition the first evangeliser and Christian martyr in Florence. Minias is thought to have been a Greek merchant or possibly an Armenian prince who left his home to make a pilgrimage to Rome. In about 250, he arrived in Florence and took up life as a hermit. He became a victim of the persecutions of the Emperor Decius (249-251 A.D.) and was beheaded. Legend has it that, after his decapitation, he picked up his head, put it back on his shoulders and went to die in the cave on Monte alle Croci where he had lived as a hermit.

That cave is now the location of the oratory and the church that bear his name. Hailed  one of the finest Romanesque structures in Tuscany and one of the most beautiful churches in Italy, Construction of the present church was begun in 1013 by Bishop Alibrando and it was endowed by the Emperor Henry II. The adjoining monastery began as a Benedictine community, then passed to the Cluniacs and then in 1373 to the Olivetans, who still run it. The monks make famous liqueurs, honey and tisanes, which they sell from a shop next to the church. We actually went in the shop and got a few trinkets, I got some beautiful gold medallions for 30 cents each ( ok ..maybe they weren’t “real” gold ) but I still love them. The honey seems really good and its affordable!

There really is something magical about being in a place that is almost 1000 years old.. when you enter inside ( its free ) you can’t help but imagine what it was like 500 years ago.. even the monks retain their simple and medieval looking robes..

light beaming across the church


beautiful interior of the church

Worth mentioning ( and visiting ) is the cemetary , I personally am very fascinated by gothic cemetaries and crypts , does that make me creepy? its really very beautiful and take a friend if your easily spooked.. Its called Porte Sante, and was laid out in 1854. Carlo Collodi, creator of Pinocchio, the politician Giovanni Spadolini and the sculptor Libero Andreotti are buried there.

cemetery of san miniato


The monks who live there sing Gregorian Chants at Vespers each day at 5:30pm in the summer and at 4:30 during the winter. Website here.


Phone: 055-234-2731
Opening hours: Easter to early Oct daily 8am-7:30pm; winter Mon-Sat 8am-1pm and 2:30-6pm, Sun 8am-6pm.

Via del Monte alle Croci/Viale Galileo Galilei , Florence, Italy

so next time you have a free afternoon, head up there and do bring people who visit there as well.. its not often something this spectacular in Florence is free

sneaking around the grounds.. what is this?

january day at san miniato al monte






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0 Comment

  1. Reply
    04.02.2012 at 15:11

    My husband and I visited Italy a year ago. When we arrived in Florence, we found our hotel, dropped our bags off, and just started walking. We ended up at San Miniato al Monte and enjoyed the breath taking views while catching our breath…that’s quite a hike! It is a treasure…very few people there when we were exploring.

  2. Reply
    Kaze Allan
    11.12.2012 at 16:44

    I saw this place in a dream…Its awesome! I wish that one day i can see it.

    1. Reply
      11.12.2012 at 18:46

      you should absolutely see it one day, it feels like a dream to myself as well.. it’s almost a 1000 years old!

  3. Reply
    27.01.2013 at 18:19

    I visited Florence on my 30th birthday and absolutely fell in love with it. I actually walked up to this church after leaving my boyfriend right down at the river and going up on my own. We had walked up to the square earlier but didn’t go as far as the church and walked back down – only for me to think ‘I can’t leave here without going up there’ so I made the track again. It was so worth it, the views over the Tuscan hills and the city are breathtaking..

    1. Reply
      27.01.2013 at 18:54

      I’m glad you did, the views are the best to be had (in my opinion) plus the place itself has a mysterious feel to it. Very unique!

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