Basilica di San Miniato al Monte

Church in Boboli & San Miniato al Monte

Five minutes' walk uphill from Piazzale Michelangelo is this wonderful Romanesque church, dedicated to St Minius, an early-Christian martyr in Florence said to have flown to this spot after his death down in the town (or, if you want to believe an alternative version, walked up the hill with his head tucked underneath his arm). The church dates from the early 11th century, although its typical Tuscan multicoloured marble facade was tacked on a couple of centuries later.

Inside its unlit interior, 13th- to 15th-century frescoes adorn the south wall and intricate inlaid marble designs line the nave, leading to a fine Romanesque crypt. The sacristy in the southeast corner features frescoes by Spinello Arentino depicting the life of St Benedict. Slap bang in the middle of the nave is the bijou Capella del Crocefisso, to which Michelozzo, Agnolo Gaddi and Luca della Robbia all contributed.

Don't miss an atmospheric stroll in relative solitude in the Cimitero Monumentale delle Porte Sante behind the church. Something of a mini town for the dead in its own right, this sea of monumental graves was laid out in the 18th century. Among the many celebrated Florentines buried here are Carlo Lorenzini (1826–90), author of Pinocchio, and philosopher and writer Giovanni Papini (1881–1956).


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