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San Miniato stroll

  • San Miniato stroll

    As the most attractive hilltop town between Pisa and Florence, San Miniato is definitely worth exploring. The fate of the town has always been closely linked to its geographical position. San Miniato is pretty much equidistant from the important cities that shaped Tuscan history: Pisa, Florence, Lucca, Pistoia, Siena and Volterra. Even if the urban mood is medieval, the town’s origins go back to Etruscan and Roman times. This charming hilltop town, slightly off the beaten track, rose to prominence under Swabian (German) emperors.

    High on the hillside is the Rocca di Federico II, which was built by the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in around 1220 to complete the town’s defensive system. Given its seemingly impregnable position, the fortress became the Imperial headquarters, not just for Tuscany but for the whole of Central Italy. Then San Miniato quietly sank into oblivion until rudely awaked in modern times. As the town was a German stronghold during the Second World War, the retreating Nazis mined key sections: part of San Miniato was destroyed but rebuilt, including the city beacon, the Rocca.

    San Miniato’s harmonious medieval town centre still boasts Renaissance mansions, several of which have become banks. One such is the splendid Renaissance mansion of Palazzo Grifoni, which marked the first time the medieval city walls were modified. Although the mansion was mined by the Nazis, it was subsequently fully restored in the 1990s. Another architectural highlight is the impressive Piazza del Seminario, framed by the Seminario Vescovile, the Episcopal Palace. Its sinuous, frescoed façade follows the line of the medieval town walls. In medieval times, San Miniato was an important stop on the Via Francigena pilgrimage route and has a clutch of intriguing churches to prove its past status. Look out for the much-remodelled red-brick Cattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta. There’s also the church of San Francesco, built by the Lombards in the 8th century, and the oldest surviving building in town.


    Address: San Miniato tourism: Piazza del Popolo 1, 56028 San Miniato
    Tel: +39 57142745
    Web: www.sanminiatopromozione.it

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