The history is quite interesting: it is dedicated to San Miniato, an armen merchant who got killed during roman persecutions against christians in the 3 century a.d. Exactly he was beheaded in the Roman Amphitheatre, which was in the Santa Croce area, but the legend says that he didn’t die right away, but took his head and walked up on the hill where he used to pray, and where he decided to rest forever. And that’s exactly where the church was build starting from 1018.
Is a magnific example of romanic art, one of the best preserved in Florence: the characteristic façade with geometrical and fantastic designs obtained with white and green inlaid marbles, the calm and solemn interior where the inlaid marbles continue, and there are beautiful examples of various art styles: the gilded mosaic in the apse, very similar to the one on the façade, showing us the medieval way to represent religious figures as static icons; the Crucifix Chapel, by Michelozzo, that used to protect a miraculous crucifix; the Chapel of Portuguese Cardinal Jacopo of Lusitania, a Renaissance pearl that mix painting, sculpture and architecture; the Sacristy, hosting one of the first cycle of life stories of San Benedetto, all frescoed by Spinello Aretino, a later Giottesco.
Everywhere you will see eagles with spread wings holding a torsello, which is a bale of wool cloth: it’s the symbol of Calimala Guild, the cloth merchants guild, one of the most powerful, who had the control and financed the construction and the art decoration of the church.
In the past financing civil and religious architecture, as well as protecting artists, by the Guilds or by private merchants or rich people, was similar to our current marketing:it was a way to advertise and to show everybody powerfulness and richness.
Once finished the inside visit, and after have taken million of picture of the panorama (if you sit on approx the third bench of the right nave and the main door is open it will be a GREAT pic)have a look on the monumental cemetery, where a lot of famous Italian and Florentine people are buried: Mario Cecchi Gori, Spadolini, Collodi which is the writer name of Pinocchio, and many more.
Walking down the stairs and turning right you will reach in 5 minutes Piazzale Michelangelo, another amazing panoramic point of the city. Build at the end of 19 century, together with the beautiful Viale dei Colli, the promenade for rich people carriages, today is attacked by tourists masses. Fortunately is big enough to hold everybody, and Firenze is beautiful any time of the day, so you might find a little spot on the muretto to take a picture and breath the town.
The quite questionable monument in the centre is a pastiche, mixed materials (bronze and marble)that represents copies of wellknown Michelangelo’s sculptures: the worldwide famous David, and the 4 statues of Medici tumbs that you can admire in the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo (Dawn, Dusk, Day, Night).
It would be nice if you have time and energies to walk down through the steps in the wood of Rampe, and you end up in San Niccolò district, a very local and authentic one.
The beautiful inlaid façade
Fantastic marble inlad
Even a zodiac is represented
Where San Miniato rest
Statues that hold the Gospel support
Lots of eagles, symbol of Calimala
San Benedetto frescoed cycle
Four evangelists' symbols