Over the centuries San Miniato has been one of the most important cities in Tuscany as, being equidistant from some of the most famous cities such as Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Volterra and San Gimignano, it has been the center of numerous battles to gain power over it. It has millennia of history behind it and still today it preserves some of the most ancient places such as the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio with the Matilde Tower, the Tower of Frederick II which dominates the whole valley from above, the sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix and much, much more!
Discover the beauties to visit in San Miniato
What to see
in San Miniato
What to see in the small medieval village of San Miniato
Among other things, over the centuries, many illustrious people have passed or stayed in San Miniato: some of the most famous German emperors, Pope Clement VII (second pope of the Medici family of Florence), Michelangelo Buonarroti, Napoleon Bonaparte, Giosuè Carducci…
Tips on how to reach and park in San Miniato
How To Get
San Miniato is easily accessible from wherever you arrive and by any conveyance.
From A1 del Sole highway, exit at Firenze Scandicci tollbooth and merge onto the Florence-Pisa-Livorno highway (FI-PI-LI). Exit San Miniato.
From the A12 highway, for those coming from south, exit at Collesalvetti tollbooth and take Florence-Pisa-Livorno (FI-PI-LI) highway. For those coming from North, exit at Pisa-Centro tollbooth and after a short link take Florence-Pisa-Livorno highway (FI-PI-LI). Exit San Miniato.
San Miniato is served by the Florence-Pisa railway line: the station is named San Miniato-Fucecchio
Pisa Galileo Galilei Airport
Florence Amerigo Vespucci Airport
If you prefer to reach San Miniato by walking, we suggest you the wonderful and panoramic Via Francigena!
Where to Park
There are various parking lots in San Miniato, some for a fee and others are free.
The parking spaces along the streets with white stripes are reserved for residents.
During the closing days of the historical center, the parking lots inside the restricted traffic area are not accessible.
On the streets of San Miniato
Tower of Federico II
From the highest part of the city, she look at us every day, like a giant protecting his city. Undisputed symbol of the city of San Miniato is “La Rocca” or the Tower of Federico II. It dominates the entire valley and if we climb to the top you have a 360 ° view of the whole surrounding area: a breathtaking view! Built in the 13th century by the German Emperor Federico II of Svevia, together with the Tower of Matilde and the now destroyed Torre della Cornacchia, it was one of the fulcrums of the fortified city. Everything could be controlled from up there. The “Rocca” was destroyed during the Second World War but was rebuilt in 1958 thanks to the architect Renato Baldi and the engineer Emilio Brizzi.
Palace of Imperial Vicars and Bishop Palace
In “Prato del Duomo” square there are also two very ancient buildings: Palazzo Vescovile (the Bishop’s house) and Palazzo dei Vicari. The latter owes its name to the fact that in ancient times it was the residence of the Vicars of the Emperor, those who controlled and administered the city. The Palazzo Vescovile was built around the 13th century and over the centuries has undergone many renovation changing his original structure: still today houses the residence of the Bishop of San Miniato .
Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio
The main church of the city is the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio which overlooks the large square called “Prato del Duomo“, the oldest part of the city that unites the Cathedral with the Tower of Matilde, Palazzo Vescovile and the Palazzo dei Vicari Imperiali. Today it is famous for its “enigmatic” facade and for having been the scene of a massacre on 22 July 1944 during Second World War. His bell tower is called Torre di Matilde because, according to legend, the Grancontessa Matilde di Canossa was born in the nearby Palazzo Dei Vicari. Today it can be visited and from its top you can enjoy a wonderful panoramic view.
Sanctuary of the Holy Crucifix
Another beautiful church we have in San Miniato is the Church of Santissimo Crocifisso, one of the favorite churches of the young couples who have to marry. It was built around the 16th century, mainly to house a crucifix considered miraculous. It’s located just below the lawn of the Duomo and from here you have a beautiful view of the Rocca. Although the external decoration is very simple, the interior gives a series of baroque decorations to leave you breathless.
Episcopal seminary building
Located in Piazza della Repubblica (also known as Piazza del Seminario) the Palazzo del Seminario Vescovile dominates the surrounding area with its beauty and majesty. Built around 1650, for the formation of the clergy, it hosted 12 clerics at the time and was built following the progress of the ancient city walls. Outside we can admire beautiful frescoes and inscriptions in Latin: today it is one of the most famous buildings in San Miniato.
Church of Saints Jacopo and Lucia
The Church of San Domenico, formerly know as “The Church of the Saints Jacopo and Lucia” is another of the main churches of the city. It overlooks Piazza del Popolo, one of the most famous squares in the city that hosts shows, parties, stalls and much more during the year. Visibly without a facade, the church of San Domenico has origins dating back to the 16th century and is one of the most beautiful churches we have thanks to the contribution of the wealthy families of the city: the wealthiest took up the patronage and many altars and chapels that we find inside still bear their names. Over the centuries it has undergone many changes and restorations, including the beautiful cloister which today is occupied by the municipal library and by MU.ME, the memory museum.
Santa Chiara Conservatory
The Santa Chiara Conservatory is one of the most important institutions in San Miniato, aimed at education and culture registered in the tradition of the Conservatory, which was born thanks to Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1785.
Dating back to the thirteenth century, it housed a monastery of Poor Clares who subsequently had to abandon the cloister to become Franciscan oblates.
The monumental building still looks majestic and imposing today, hiding stories and works of art of immense value. Inside the church we find the Museum of Santa Chiara where it is possible to admire masterful works by artists such as Jacopo Chimenti (called “L’ Empoli”), Ludovico Cardi (called “Il Cigoli”), Deodato Orlandi and many others! The collection also includes wonderful silk frontals embroidered by nuns, reliquaries and liturgical furnishings.
The Euteleti Academy was founded in 1822 by the future bishop of San Miniato Torello Pierazzi and the poet Pietro Bagnoli and today it is one of the oldest institutions in the city.
The Euteleti are “men of good will who pursue a good purpose” and spread wisdom, science and letters: to date the Academy is still active, organizing scientific exhibitions and conferences and is a reference point for the city of San Miniato.
The headquarters is located in Palazzo Migliorati (in Piazza XX Settembre) and houses a wonderful library and a plaster cast of the face of Napoleon Bonaparte.
The Via Angelica and Sant’Urbano Oratory
The Via Angelica is an ancient road that connected the countryside to the city of San Miniato linked to the Charcoal alleys. Along this road you can find the chapel of San Pietro Martire, the Sant’Urbano Oratory and the Aula Pacis. The oratory was built in 1395 as a chapel of the Compagnia di Sant’Urbano, a brotherhood active in San Miniato between 1300 and 1786. In the chapel you can admire numerous frescoes dedicated to the life of Jesus, to the Dominican saints, a rare representation of Sant’Urbano holding the image of Saints Peter and Paul and some images depicting the virtues painted by Domenico Bamberini. The wooden crucifix of Sant’Urbano was venerated by the faithful against natural disasters including heavy rains that damaged the fields. The crucifix is now above the altar and has no longer his arms as it seems they’ve been lost during wars.
The Loretino Oratory is a small chapel that owes its name to the statue of the Madonna di Loreto. A jewel of medieval and Renaissance period, it’s located on the ground floor inside the Town Hall. Born as a private chapel of the rulers, it also became a place of worship for the local community in 1399 when the wooden Holy Crucifix was brought there. According to legend the sacred object arrived in San Miniato brought by two mysterious wayfarers, perhaps 2 angels who left it in the home of a humble widow locked in a box from which a strange light filtered at night. To preserve the precious simulacrum, a precious Gothic-style gate was affixed and later the chapel was frescoed with scenes from the childhood and Passion of Christ and other religious subjects. The back wall of the Oratory was enriched with a gilded wooden altar with painted tables and in the niches the two patron saints of the city, San Genesio (patron saint of the actors) and San Miniato. In 1718 the Crucifix was transported to the Sanctuary dedicated to the famous effigy and was replaced by the statue of Madonna di Loreto in the central niche.
Hall of 7 virtues
The Hall of 7 Virtues is located inside the Town Hall and is the oldest room in the building. It dates back to 1300 and was the place where the 12 defenders of the people administered the free municipality after the death of Frederick II.
The name “Hall of 7 Virtues” indicates the 7 theological and cardinal virtues: caution, justice, temperance, fortitude, faith, hope and charity.
The room is beautifully decorated with distinguished and heraldic coats of arms of the 15th century affixed by Florentine vicars and noble families.
There is also a representation of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the child made by Francesco di Ser Cenni on commission from a vicar of the Guicciardini family.
The room, in addition to being part of the San Miniato Museum System, is used for the celebration of civil weddings.
The Council Hall is part of the Town Hall Museum. It’s the place where the meetings of the City Council are held and can be visited during some days of the week. The hall is eighteenth-century and was frescoed and decorated in neo-Gothic style in 1928 by the canon Francesco Maria Galli Angelini with episodes from San Miniato’s life. While in the adjacent Hall of 7 virues the coats of arms were mainly of Florentine vicars, the period between the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries is enhanced with paintings of coats of arms of local podestries and episodes of the time. Among the notable characters we find:
- Captain Baron Mangiadori, well-known knight who, “with his arm and council powerfully cooperated in the victory of Campaldino where Dante fought”, battle mentioned in the “Purgatory” (V 85-129).
- The Storyteller Franco Sacchetti, mayor of the city at the end of the 13th century who wrote in San Miniato “Trecentonovelle”, a collection with episodes dedicated to San Miniato written in the style of the commoners and bourgeois of the time.
- The Leader Francesco Sforza who was Duke of Milan, first of the dynasty, born in Cigoli (hamlet of San Miniato) in 1401.
Church of San Francesco
Founded around the twelfth century, probably where an oratory dedicated to San Miniato already stood, the large complex of the Church and Monumental Convent of San Francesco is one of the best known places in the city. According to the documents of the time, the building was donated to St. Francis of Assisi around 1211 and was subsequently expanded over the centuries: the signs of the ancient structure can still be seen on the facade of the church.
In the refectory it’s possible to admire a canvas representing the dinner of San Francesco and Santa Chiara by Carlo Bambocci while other works of great value are found inside the Church, such as the wooden crucifix attributed to Giuliano di Baccio D’Agnolo or the assumption of the Virgin attributed to Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio.
Today the complex is a place of worship and pilgrimage where it’s possible to stay overnight and organize dinners and events.
Church of Santissima Annunziata
The Church of Santissima Annunziata is another place of worship in San Miniato. Before the current construction, in the same place, stood the Oratory of the Compagnia della Santissima Annunziata which donated the new church to the Augustinian friars.
Although from outside it may arouse little curiosity, it hides a finely decorated interior in Baroque style, with statues and frescoes maintained over the centuries thanks to the legacies of the Roffia and Grifoni families, who had patronage here. The dome is frescoed by the painter Antonio Domenico Bramberini while on the altar there is a detached fresco of the Annunciation linked to a singular legend.
Mume The Museum of memory
One of the most recent museums opened in San Miniato is the MuMe, the Museum of Memory, and is located under the Loggiati di San Domenico at number 8.
Inaugurated in July 2018, it’s a place that preserves the history of the citizens of San Miniato linked mainly to the period of the Second World War and contains stories, photographs, testimonials, letters and much more of those who wanted to make their contribution in telling the difficult period that Europe and its citizens have faced.
The museum is divided into three sections that collect the periods from 1921 to 1946 and inside, as well as numerous testimonies, it’s possible to interact with history thanks to large interactive screens that trace the events of San Miniato and its citizens.
A silent place, to be explored by pausing at each bulletin board that contains the memories of young people and families who have given everything for the liberation of our country. A place of memory in which we must remember the great sacrifices that our ancestors have made to allow today to be what we are and to keep the memory and peace over time.