Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (Basilica of St. Minias on the Mountain), Florence

Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (Basilica of St. Minias on the Mountain), Florence (must see)

Perched on one of the highest points in Florence, San Miniato is hailed as one of the most exquisite examples of Romanesque architecture in Tuscany and one of Italy's most splendid churches. While it may pose challenges for those with limited mobility, it forms a delightful combination with the Michelangelo Square ("Piazzale Michelangelo"). Best of all, admission is completely free, allowing visitors to explore the church and the adjacent Olivetan monastery, seen to the right of the basilica while ascending the stairs.

Legend has it that Saint Miniato, also known as Minas, an Armenian prince serving in the Roman army under Emperor Decius, was denounced as a Christian after becoming a hermit. He was brought before the Emperor, who ordered him to be thrown to wild beasts in an amphitheater. However, a panther summoned to attack him refused to harm him. Despite being eventually beheaded in the presence of the Emperor, Saint Miniato is said to have picked up his own head, crossed the Arno River, and ascended the hill of Mons Fiorentinus to his hermitage. A shrine was later established at this spot, followed by a chapel in the 8th century.

The present-day basilica was funded by a guild of cloth merchants, who were responsible for its upkeep. Adorned with stunning mosaic decorations, an exquisite marble inlay altar, and even a "pagan" horoscope, it is quite a spectacular sight, showcasing remarkable craftsmanship by some of Florence's most esteemed artists.

After exploring the church, it's intriguing to wander through the rather surreal and captivating cemetery, which houses ancient and elaborate tombstones. Among them are the final resting places of many notable residents of the city, including Carlo Collodi, the author of "Pinocchio."

Lastly, don't miss the opportunity to visit the small gift shop on the premises, offering an array of intriguing items such as herbal liqueurs, honey, herbal teas, and high-quality medicinal tinctures prepared by the Olivetan monks.

Tip:
At 5:30pm, you can attend or observe the Latin and Italian mass, where all the hymns are sung by the priests. By 6:30pm, the monks emerge to chant their vespers. And, of course, make sure to venture behind the church to admire the magnificent view of the city in all its glory!

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Florence. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (Basilica of St. Minias on the Mountain) on Map

Sight Name: Basilica di San Miniato al Monte (Basilica of St. Minias on the Mountain)
Sight Location: Florence, Italy (See walking tours in Florence)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Florence, Italy

Create Your Own Walk in Florence

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Florence's Hidden Art Treasures

Florence's Hidden Art Treasures

The “Cradle of the Renaissance,” Florence is one of Europe’s most beautiful and busiest destinations, home to some of the world's greatest pieces of art and architecture. The iconic masters like Giotto, Botticelli, Raphael and Michelangelo, as well as their somewhat less-known but equally talented counterparts, such as Ghirlandaio, Sangallo and Castagno, have blessed this city with...  view more

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Florence Introduction Walking Tour

Florence Introduction Walking Tour

The city of Florence was founded by Julius Caesar in 59 BC as a settlement for veteran soldiers. It was built initially in the style of an army garrison – with main streets intersecting at today's Piazza della Repubblica. The original name, Fluentia, stems from its location between the two rivers; later, it was renamed Florentia, which means “flowering” or “flourishing”.

The...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.1 Km or 2.5 Miles
Florence Food Tour

Florence Food Tour

Food is one of the great Florentine passions, and the great thing about having a delicious authentic Tuscan meal, a snack, delicatessen, or a quality gelato here – besides the abundant variety – is not having to spend a lot of money for it.

In general, the “osterias” and the eateries nestled in Sant’Ambrogio Market will offer cheaper and more casual food with an emphasis on home...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.6 Km or 1.6 Miles
Medici Landmarks Walking Tour

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The Medici family helped to establish Florence as the single most important art capital of Renaissance Europe. In order to prove wealth and power, they built numerous palaces, libraries, churches, chapels and personal residences. The Medicis were big lovers of art and they acquired huge, expensive collections, as well as supporting many sculptors and painters of the time.

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Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
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Arno South Bank Walking Tour

Arno South Bank Walking Tour

The area south of Arno river, also called Oltrarno ("Beyond the Arno"), is a quieter place but not less interesting. Here you can find the Pitti Palace whose collection of paintings is second only to the Uffizi, and the vast Boboli Gardens once enjoyed by the Medici and the royal family. One of the first and most important examples of "Italian Gardens", they later served as...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.4 Km or 1.5 Miles
Duomo Walking Tour

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Located in the very heart of historic Florence, the Duomo area is deservedly considered the city’s religious and civic center, replete with numerous landmarks. Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria, the two most important squares in the city, are steeped in history and the sights and activities found here are truly endless.

The most prominent of these, undoubtedly, is the breathtaking...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles

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