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San Miniato Al Monte Overview

The Abbey of San Miniato al Monte is a beautiful example of Romanesque architecture with its white-marble façade and marble reliefs. The Abbey is located on a hill just outside Florence, Italy and overlooks the entire city.

Visitors can take in the stunning views of Florence while also exploring Abbey’s interior, which includes several interesting historical artefacts.

San Miniato al Monte is one of the most beautiful basilicas in Italy and the most popular tourist places in Florence. Located in the heart of Italy, this basilica is also referred to as St. Minias on the Mountain. The monument is considered one of the finest structures in the country.

Located at one of the highest points in the city, it gives you a panoramic view. When it comes to Tuscan architecture, the San Miniato al Monte is regarded as the finest in Romanesque pieces of work. This Italian church is situated right next to an Olivetan monastery and is easily visible on the right side of the staircase when you climb up.

The attraction is less crowded and this proves to be an added bonus for tourists who want to get pictures clicked at sunset. One can enjoy the scenic views of red rooftops spread across the city along with renaissance architecture. On Sundays, the Latin Mass and Monks chant the Vespers service.

The beauty of the place can be enjoyed the most while sitting quietly for a while and simply enjoying the silence — or the soothing chanting of the monks and prayers.

Highlights

• Admire the beautiful facade of the Abbey, which is adorned with pink, white and green marble. 
• Head up to explore the museum's three floors of exhibitions at their own pace, or join a guided tour led by one of the Abbey's monks.
• Admire a magnificent art collection that includes works by Giotto, Paolo Uccello and Andrea Orcagna. 
• Explore the garden that is full of flowers, bushes and centuries-old trees, like holm oaks, cypresses, plane-trees and magnolias. 
• Find a beautiful pergola made with camellias, magnolias, wisterias and roses. All around the pergola there are jasmine bushes that release their intense fragrance in springtime.
• Learn about this important site and its beautiful artwork in Florence.
• Make sure to take a look at the splendid view of Florence as on a clear day you can see all the way to Siena!

How To Reach

There are multiple ways to reach the basilica. Depending on your mode or preferred means of transport, you can pick one:

By Bus: From the airport, you can head to the nearest bus station as the Basilica can be reached by bus. You can take the ATAF Bus number 12 from the main railway station. Generally, visitors prefer taking the bus because the road is uphill which can be difficult for senior citizens. Of course, walking down is much easier on the legs.

However, if you are taking the bus down, make sure that you get Bus 12. The tickets for the bus are valid for about 90 minutes. So if you rush, you can use the same ticket back to the town.

Shuttle: From the airport, take a shuttle to the Piazzale Michelangelo, then you can easily reach the Basilica on foot. The walk takes about 10-15 minutes. This gives you more time to hang out at the church. You can also take your car up and get dropped.

Recommended Read: Things To Do In Florence

Best Time To Visit

Italy can get quite cold during the winter season, so if you are willing to bear the chill, it is still a feasible time to visit San Miniato Al Monte. Ideally, people visit the area in the Spring or Summer months, which is about April to August and September respectively.

Do keep in mind that during the later summer months, there is a huge surge in tourists and the weather can also get warm. The good news is that the church remains open till 7.00 PM, which makes it easily accessible.

If you want to make the most of the breathtaking view, you should try going in the evening. Ideally around sunset would be a good time — you can attend the mass too if visiting on a Sunday. Do check their website for change in timings, especially the mass schedule.

Suggested Read: Places To Visit In Rome

Other Essential Information

Location: Via delle Porte Sante 34, 50125, Florence, Italy

Opening Hours: 9:30 AM - 1:00 PM, 3:30 PM - 7:00 PM

Prayer Timings: Mass takes place at 5.30 PM

Entry Fee: No charge for the church, but the museum and some other facilities have admission charges.

Distance from Nearest Airport: Florence Airport or Aeroporto di Firenze — also referred to as Amerigo Vespucci Airport is located close to Florence at a distance of about 31 km. The airport is one of the two major operating airports in the Tuscany area.

History of San Miniato Al Monte

An Armenian prince named St. Miniato or Minas was serving in the Roman army. Emperor Decius was the ruler. The prince became a hermit and was denounced as a Christian. As a punishment, a panther was let loose on him in an amphitheater but the panther refused to attack St. Miniato. The prince was then beheaded in front of the empire, who also St. Miniato’s head to the hill of Mons Fiorentini.

It was here that a shrine was made to honor St. Miniato. It was only in 1013 that the church’s construction was started by Bishop Alibrando. The construction of this church was completed in 1062. However, there were many parts of the church that were made much later in the 12th century too. In the 13th century, Florentine Arte di Calimala (who maintained the church) added more changes to the architecture. In 1499, the campanile collapsed and was finally changed in 1533.

Also Read: Things To Do In Rome

Architecture of San Miniato Al Monte

San Miniato al Monte is a three-aisled basilican church based on Romanesque architecture in medieval Europe. It was best known for the semi-circular arches. Along with this, the church also has a geometrically patterned marble façade.

On entering the basilica, the contrasting colors give a brilliant appeal to the eye. This was Massimo Iarussi's design where natural and artificial light creates a wonderful balance.

The floor of the church is mosaic with marble inlays. On the trusses on top of these inlays, are mounted Museo luminaries that give the feel of traditional lanterns. The architecture has been focussed in a way so that light strikes all the right elements and frescoes — but don’t divert or spill into the surfaces nearby.

Know More: Places To Visit In Florence In 1 Day

Being Monks in San Miniato Al Monte

Adjoining the basilica is a monastery, which had been initially set up as a Benedictine community. The legacy of the monastery was passed down to Cluniacs and around 1373 Olivetans took over the same. For centuries, the monks in this monastery have been known for making famous liqueurs- a tradition that is still continued today. They also make a variety of other items like honey and herbal teas. All of these are sold right next to the church in a shop.

It was since 1018 that a small community of Benedictine monks resided in this area. They started living in the adjacent monastery. The monks operate a pharmacy which sells herbal remedies and pastry products that are created by friars.

These monks take part in the mass on Sundays and Feast days. They also do the Gregorian chant at 10.00 and 17.30, in the crypt. On weekdays, this Gregorian chant usually happens at 17.30. The time is sometimes changed to 16.30 in winter.

Check This Out: Things To Do In Florence In Winter

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Day Wise Timings
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San Miniato Al Monte FAQs

When was San Miniato al Monte built?

San Miniato al Monte was built in 1013. However, the construction of the church continued to happen over the next century as touches to the interiors were made.

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