Girl in Florence

A Tuscan Texan immersed in Florentine life

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


This is perhaps a bit embarrassing to admit but.. oh well here it 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!

Nico and I on one of our many winter walks up to the Basilica


The stunning view from San Miniato al Monte
view from san miniato al monte
The main entrance to the church
leading up to the church

A little backstory on the church itself. St. Minias was by tradition the first evangelist 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 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 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.

A monk outside of the church

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 it’s affordable.

Winter light on San Miniato al Monte

There really is something magical about being in a place that is almost 1000 years old… when you enter inside (it’s 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


The stunning interior design of the church
beautiful interior of the church

Worth mentioning ( and visiting ) is the cemetery, I personally am very fascinated by gothic cemeteries and crypts, does that make me creepy? It’s really very beautiful but take a friend if you are easily spooked. It’s 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.


The "spooky"cemetery of San Miniato
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?

Late afternoon in January at San Miniato Al Monte


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0 Responses

  1. 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.

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

  2. 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. 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!

Georgette Jupe

Welcome to my personal blog by a curious American girl living and working between Zug, Switzerland and Florence, Italy with my husband Nico, our newborn Annabelle and Ginger the beagle. This space is primarily to share about my love for Italy (currently on a 13 year romance) with a fair amount of real talk, practical advice, travel suggestions and adjusting to a new culture (Switzerland). Find me on IG @girlinflorence @girlinzug

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