When people visit Florence and want a panoramic view of the city, they are often told to go to Piazzale Michelangelo. Piazzale Michelangelo is nice, but I feel like San Miniato al Monte is over looked as a good spot for a view. The church dates back to the 11th century and I’m kicking myself for not taking tons of photos, I was caught up in the experience but believe me it is beautiful and worth a visit!
But first, you must climb up a steep hill of steps to get there! The basilica is about a 10 minute walk beyond Piazzale Michelangelo. I will cover Piazzale Michelangelo in another post, but you can get there by bus or walk from the city center – it’s a long walk though!
Just a few more steps and you’re there! Well – we entered through a side door by accident. I’m kind of annoyed that I didn’t take a photo of the real entrance! San Miniato al Monte is a Romanesque church that is dedicated to St Minias who was an Armenian king or prince. He was the first Christian martyr of Florence. In 250 AD under the orders of Roman Emperor Decius, St. Minias was tortured numerous ways and then beheaded in Florence at Piazza della Signoria. Legend says after his execution, he picked up his head and walked up to the very hill where the church now sits.
We were lucky enough to visit while the monks prayed in a Gregorian chant, it was soothing to hear! I believe it happens around 5:30 in the evenings which is also a perfect time to watch the sunset!
At the time, photos were not allowed but other people (including my husband) were taking them anyway. I always prefer to follow the rules but I’m kind of glad we did get photos so I can look back on our experience.
This is a photo of the top of the campanile (tower) from behind. It is an unfinished 15th century campanile that was damaged during the siege of Florence in 1530.
There is a gift shop operated by the monks who live in the monastery. They sell honey, soaps, liqueurs and other items made by the monks. Unfortunately it was closed for the day when we were there.
Do visit the cemetery, I know it might sound weird but many of the graves are old and fascinating! It’s one of the highlights of San Miniato al Monte. Please try to get there in time to watch the sunset – it is a golden beauty! The view of Florence is literally breath taking as cliche as it sounds.
I love Florence and it is by far my most favorite city in Italy! Do you have a favorite city in Italy that you love or a city you would love to visit?