If you are in San Miniato, in Piazza del Popolo, and stop to observe the facade of the Church of San Domenico, you can notice a small wrought iron door on the left side of the church.
Entering that place, you make a time jump of a few centuries and you find yourself walking along that place called Via Angelica.
The Via Angelica is a path that in ancient times was used by farmers who, from the countryside, had to reach the historic center of San Miniato. This place has remained as if suspended in time, thanks to three places that maintain a unique beauty thanks to wonderful frescoes and decorations that date back to periods between the fourteenth and eighteenth centuries. These rooms are located below the church of San Domenico (formerly of Saints Jacopo and Lucia)
In the first room we can admire some frescoes representing Saint Peter, the Annunciation and on the ceiling a representation of the Four Evangelists attributed to Jacopo di Cione, famous Florentine artist and brother of Andrea (better known as Orcagna), Nardo and Matteo di Cione.
The Oratory of Sant’Urbano
In the second room of the Via Angelica, we find the Oratory of Sant’Urbano, so called because the followers of the company of Sant’Urbano gathered there. In the chapel we can admire wonderful frescoes representing the life of Christ, some Dominican Saints, a fourteenth-century cycle of frescoes among which we recognize Sant’Urbano which supports the images of Saints Peter and Paul, scenes from the Last Judgment and another eighteenth-century cycle with the Via Crucis. It’s interesting to pause to observe the stylistic differences that follow one another on the walls. The wooden crucifix at the end of the room was venerated by the faithful against natural disasters and no longer has the arms because during the war, it was moved to save it from destruction: it was during these movements that the two limbs have been lost.
The Chapel of Saint Peter Martyr
The last room we find is the Chapel of Saint Peter Martyr. Other interesting frescoes follow one another on the walls but unfortunately the hall has undergone heavy modifications that have destroyed most of the original decorations. However, some remains can still be glimpsed such as the busts of the four evangelists, an image of St. Dominic and some scenes from the Passion of Christ.
The Via Angelica still maintains that religious aura of calm and peace despite the city of San Miniato experiencing its modernity. It should be yet another passage to reach the famous Charcoal Alleys, but it’s still being restored to make the make the path passable.