San Miniato is a hill town between Florence and Pisa in Tuscany

Photo of San Miniato (Tuscany region)

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Visit San Miniato

The small town of San Miniato is spread along a hill about halfway between Florence and Pisa in central Tuscany has several interesting historic monuments and makes a very interesting detour when travelling between these two popular cities - and a pleasant change from much of the route, which is rather overdeveloped.

Exploring San Miniato

Your visit will focus on the old town, at the top of the hill. The new town in the valley below is of little interest to visitors.

Start your visit at the tower, the main part remaining of the 13th century castle built for Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II in 1236 and with extensive views across the town and Arno valley below. From the tower you can see that San Miniato follows a very straightforward town plan along the ridge of the hills.

The current tower actually dates from 1958, the original having been destroyed during World War II by the retreating Germans and rebuilt after the end of the war.

view from the 12th century fortress in San Miniato

Close to here you can see the cathedral (duomo in Italian) built in the 12th century in red brick, which is unusual for cathedrals in this region. Another unusual feature of the cathedral is the pottery ornamentation inset in the facade. The building combines various architectural styles - gothic, romanesque and renaissance - due to changes made over the centuries, while the interior is mostly in baroque style with pink marble columns and a decoratively painted ceiling.

Another interesting small highlight in San Miniato is the Museum on the same square as the cathedral. The museum contains several notable renaissance paintings from the middle of the 15th century. The highlights are a painting of the Crucifixion by Filippo Lippi and a terracotta bust of Christ by Verrocchio.

Continue down the hill to reach the Piazza della Republica and the seminary, in an attractive small square. Some of the buildings still include the original medieval arcades at ground level.

As you continue to explore the medieval streets and alleys of the town you will soon reach the Piazza del Popolo where you can see the 14th century Church of San Domenico with its frescoes and trompe l'oeil decoration.

painted walls of seminary in San Miniato

Other notable sights within San Miniato include Palazzo dei Vicari, which is now a hotel and notable for its very early (12th century) crenellated tower and the 14th century Town Hall. The churches of San Dominica and San Francesco also date from the 13th-14th centuries and contain notable renaissance period frescoes.

Various other small palaces and religious monuments will also catch your eye as you explore the town.

Other information

If you find yourself exploring Tuscany towards the end of November (not necessarily the best time to visit weather wise but you never know...) you can visit the San Miniato truffle festival which celebrates the truffles of the region which is well known for both 'normal' black truffles and also the even more highly prized white truffles found nearby.

If you are staying overnight we recommend the Miravelle Palace Hotel, in an excellent location in the heart of the old town.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Pisa guide and the Tuscany guide.

See also:

Map of San Miniato and places to visit

Places to visit near San Miniato

Empoli

Empoli

In the quiet town of Empoli you can explore the medieval piazza and surrounding streets

Empoli guide

Vinci

Vinci

The Tuscan village of Vinci is famous for being the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci

Vinci guide

Artimino

Artimino

In the fortified village of Artimino you can see a lovely 11th century church and an important renaissance villa and etruscan museum

Artimino guide

Certaldo

Certaldo

Both the historic centre of Certaldo and the scenic Tuscan landscapes around the village contribute to its appeal

Certaldo guide

Poggio a Caiano

Poggio a Caiano

At Poggio a Caiano you can visit the Medici Villa, first Renaissance style villa in Italy

Poggio a Caiano guide

Pistoia

Pistoia

Rather overlooked by visitors to Tuscany, Pistoia actually has an impressive cathedral in the historic town centre

Pistoia guide