San Miniato is just south of the Arno in a historically important position a halfway between Florence and Pisa on the via Francigena. The old town has retained a characteristic tentacular plant, subdivided into several districts, which follows the shape of the hilltops.
Things to do in San Miniato
In the western part of the town, there are the interesting chiesa della Santissima Annunziata and the stylish Palazzo Grifoni. A little furhter, just outside the city centre, we find the former Monastero di Santa Chiara; inside there is a museum (visits by appointment only) managed by the Fondazione Conservatorio di Santa Chiara.
The central squares of San Miniato
The core of the town is made by some irregular shaped squares; the first one is Piazza del Popolo. On the bottom of the square, along the main axis of the town, you can see the incomplete facade of the Chiesa di San Domenico (former Chiesa dei Santi Jacopo e Lucia). The interior, that unlike the facade is richly adorned, preserves many paintings and sculptures.
Near this church, we suggest to look for the so called Via Angelica (angelic road), a passage that leads to three locations full of frescoes dated between the 14th and the 18th century.
Continuing on Augusto Conti you get to Palazzo Roffia where is the Arciconfraternita di Misericordia and its museum (free access but only on reservation). Just beyond, you will find the Piazza della Repubblica (former Piazza del Seminario). The square is characterized by the presence of scenographic Seminar which occupies three sides on four.
Three staircases link Piazza della Repubblica to Piazza del Duomo. The nice tree-lined square, once seat of both temporal and spiritual power, offers a wide view on the river Arno valley.
Duomo and Torre di Matilde
The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio is a brick building from the 13th century. At the end of the structure rises an imposing bell tower called Torre di Matilde, once was part of the defensive systems of the town. As the Torre di Federico II, the Torre di Matilde show a complete view on the town and the surrounding area.
Museo diocesano di Arte Sacra
Housed in the rooms adjacent to the Cathedral, the museum exhibits paintings, sculptures and other kinds of art-works coming for the churches of the diocese of San Miniato.
Address: Piazza del Duomo 1
November-March: friday-sunday 10.00-13.00
April-October: evey day 10.00-13.00 and 14.00-17.00
Tickets: regular 2,50 euro; reduced 2 euro; free for kids and over 65 years.
Cumulative ticket for the museums of San Miniato: 5 euro
Santuario del Crocifisso
The santuario del Crocifisso is located behind the Duomo a short distance to the square. The sanctuary is a church with greek cross plan surmounted by a dome. In his sumptuous interior preserves a 11th-century wooden crucifix considered miraculous.
Rocca di Federico II
From Piazza del Duomo you can quickly get to the top of the hill on which stood the castle built by Emperor Frederick II. From the fortress remains only the tower which was rebuilt after the destruction of 1944.
October-March: saturday-sunday and holidays 11.00-16.00
April-September: tuesday-sunday and holidays 11.00-18.00
Tickets: 3,50 euro
Descending from the Santuario del Crocifisso on the main road, we get to the Town hall. Inside, you can find the oratorio Loretino built towards the end of the 13th century as a private chapel of the rulers.
From there, resume the visit along the relief of the fortress to meet oratorio della Trinità (16th century) before and then the chiesa di San Francesco (13th-15th centuries).
Accademia degli Euteleti
The Accademia degli Euteleti is inside the Palazzo Migliorati in the eastern part of San Miniato. This academy, founded in the first half of the 17th century with the name of Accademia degli Affidati, makes research and promotion in the field of Sciences and arts.
Address: Piazza XX Settembre 21
Opening hours: wdnesday-sunday 15.00-18.00
For more informations about the museums please consult the web site of the municipality and the web site of the Fondazione San Miniato Promozione. Particularly, if you contact the Tourist Office and the Sistema Museale di San Miniato you can also book a guided tour to the archaeological area di San Genesio located a short distance from the town along the via Francigena.
What to visit around San Miniato
San Miniato is a short distance from Empoli, Cerreto Guidi and Vinci. Going intp the Val d’Elsa you will find via Castelfiorentino, Certaldo, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi and other villages in the area: all worthy of a visit!