San Miniato Pearl of Tuscany

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ITINERARY Arrival at Pisa Airport. A coach will take you to San Miniato, a town located on three hills in the heart of Tuscany. The town is situated at the intersection of the streets that join Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Siena and the famous Via Francigena, which was the main connecting route between Northern Europe and Rome in the Middle Ages. The landscape is enchanting with old boroughs, ancient churches, amazing Medici villas, castles and tobacco mills.



HISTORY San Miniato is a land of Etruscan and Roman settlements. The town was founded by the Lombards in the 8th century when they built a church dedicated to the martyr Miniato. The town has, therefore, Germanic origins and in the Middle Ages it became known as San Miniato al Tedesco. In the 10th century, under Otto I, Duke of Saxony, San Miniato became one of the centres of the Imperial administration and in the 13th century, under Frederick II of Swabia, who built his castle in San Miniato in 1218, the town was fortified with walls and other defensive works, including the Fortress. San Miniato became a free Commune at the end of the 13th century. Great monasteries, schools, institutions and hospitals were built during this period. In the 13th and the 14th centuries, San Miniato was drawn into the ongoing conflict between the Ghibellines and the Guelphs. By 1370 the town was under Florentine control. Later, it became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany and it was still part of it when it was absorbed into the Kingdom of Italy in 1860. At the end of the 19th century San Miniato had become a town in its own right. During the Second World War the German Army mined and destroyed Frederick II’s Fortress but it was rebuilt in 1958.


Our walking tour starts with Grifoni Palace. This Renaissance Palace was built by Giuliano of Baccio d'Agnolo for Ugolino Grifoni, Secretary of the Grand Duke Cosimo I of the Medici Family, in 1555. The building was destroyed during the Second World War, later it was restored and regained its original splendour.

We can continue our tour towards Piazza del Popolo with its Church of the Saints Jacopo and Lucia, also called San Domenico’s Church, with its adjacent Cloisters of the Convent. This church dates back to 1330 so it is very old, as we can see from its façade. Inside the church we can admire some works of art such as Giovanni Chellini’s tomb, attributed to Bernardo Rossellino, a fresco depicting “Scenes from San Domenico’s Life” by Antonio Domenico Bamberini, “The Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus and the Saints Cosmas, Damian, John the Evangelist and Thomas” by Domenico di Michelino and “The Deposition” by Francesco Morandini called “Il Poppi” . The MuMe is worth a visit. This museum was created to preserve the memory of the Second World War. The museum contains war relics, vintage posters and documents of the people from San Miniato who lived the dramatic years of the Second World War. 4

Next to the church we can admire the amazing Via Angelica, which is an ancient path that runs along the right wall of the Church of the Saints Jacopo and Lucia. In the past it was the connecting route between the town and the countryside. Along this ancient path there are three chapels decorated with 14th-century frescoes and 18th-century decorations. In one of these chapels, Saint Urban’s Oratory, we can see frescoes depicting “Scenes from the Way of the Cross” and “Saint Urban Pope”. We next visit the Archconfraternity of Mercy in Roffia Palace, which contains devotional objects connected with the role of this important institution such as a 19th-century horse-drawn ambulance, 18th-century lanterns and some splendid paintings.


Our tour continues towards Piazza del Seminario, where we can admire the Palace of the Seminary. The square has an asymmetric shape. The palace dates back to 1713 and it is characterized by its concave faรงade decorated with 18th-century frescoes and phrases in Latin. In the Middle Ages there were houses and shops whose wooden doors can still be seen. On the other side of the square we can see the rear faรงade of the Bishop's Palace.


We next head for Piazza del Duomo, where we can admire the Cathedral, which is dedicated to Santa Maria Assunta and San Genesio. It was built in the 12th century and has a beautiful Romanesque façade, which also exhibits Gothic and Renaissance architectural elements. The Church has a Latin cross plan with three naves and houses many works of art such as a 17th-century wooden crucifix by Iacopo di Giuliano Sani, Giovanni Battista Sandrini’s baptismal font, four marble busts of famous men from San Miniato: Iacopo Buonaparte, Pietro Bagnoli, Giovacchino Taddei and Francesco Maria Poggi and frescoes by Antonio Domenico Bamberini and Francesco Lanfranchi. Its Bell Tower, called Matilde Tower, has an asymmetrical clock and dates back to the 12th century. Its name refers to Countess Matilde of Canossa, who was probably born in San Miniato. Next to the Cathedral there is the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art housing paintings by famous artists such as Iacopo Chimenti called “L’Empoli”, Francesco Morandini called “Il Poppi”, Lorenzo Lippi, Giovanni Bilivert, Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni, Neri di Bicci, Iacopo di Mino del Pellicciaio and Lorenzo Monaco.


In Piazza del Duomo we can also admire the Bishop’s Palace, which is the residence of the Bishop of San Miniato and features a chapel dedicated to the Assumption and St. John the Baptist, the Imperial Vicars’ Palace, dating back to the 12thcentury, and its Tower, which was used as a prison. Leaving Piazza del Duomo behind us, we head off to the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Crucifix. This Baroque church, which stands between the Fort, the Cathedral and the Town Hall, was built in the 18th century. While the decoration of the façade is very simple, the walls inside the church are completely painted with "Scenes from Jesus Christ's Life" by Antonio Domenico Bamberini. On the main altar there is a tabernacle containing the famous "Holy Crucifix", which is venerated and thought to be miraculous.


In front of the Sanctuary there is the Town Hall, which was built at the end of the 13th century. Inside we can admire two beautiful rooms decorated with the 14th and 16th- century amazing frescoes: La Sala delle Sette Virtù and La Sala Consiliare.

The frescoes in La Sala delle Sette Virtù were painted between the 14th and the 16th centuries. The most important fresco is the “Virgin Mary nursing her Child surrounded by the Theological and Cardinal Virtues”, attributed to Cenni di Francesco di Ser Cenni. In the middle of the painting, you can see the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus. Around her there are some female figures, who are symbols of the Seven Virtues. “Justice” is holding a sword in her right hand and scales in her left hand; “Prudence” is pointing to a mirror with her right hand; “Temperance” is holding a phial of wine mixed up with water in her right hand; “Fortitude” is holding a sword and is wearing a helmet; “Hope” is praying; “Charity” has got a flame in her right hand and a piece of paper in her left hand and “Faith” has a cross on her left shoulder.


La Sala Consiliare is situated next to the “Sala delle Sette Virtù” and contains Francesco Maria Galli Angelini’s famous frescoes depicting the history of San Miniato during the Middle Ages. In one of these frescoes we can see a knight riding a horse and holding a sword in his right hand. On the right there is a parchment and on the left there is the knight's Coat of Arms. Next to this fresco, we can see a man holding a green book in his left hand and a quill in his right hand. He is wearing a red robe and a red hat. In the corner there is his family’s Coat of Arms. In another fresco we can see the Virgin Mary talking to San Miniato, San Genesio, Sant'Agostino and San Francesco. The room is decorated with frescoes depicting the Coats of Arms of famous Noble Families from San Miniato and famous leaders such as Franco Sacchetti, who was the “Podesta”of San Miniato in the 1380s and governed the town on behalf of the Florentine Republic, Francesco Sforza and Barone de’ Mangiadori.


Don’t miss the visit to the Oratory of Loretino, which was built inside the Town Hall as the governors’ private chapel at the end of the 13th century. It became an important place of worship in the 14th century when the wooden image of the holy crucifix, considered to have miraculous powers, was placed here. According to a legend, the simulacrum was brought to San Miniato by two mysterious travellers, who were probably two angels. They left it in the house of a poor widow. It was closed up in a case and it emanated an “arcane” light at night. It became a symbol of peace and love. The veneration of the Holy Crucifix increased between 1629 and 1631 when the Bubonic Plague spread in Italy. A church was built in honour of the Holy Crucifix, which was placed in the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Crucifix. The Oratory contains decorations by Francesco Lanfranchi called “Spillo”, a magnificent altar attributed to Noferi di Antonio di Noferi and a wooden statue of the “Madonna di Loreto”, which gives the chapel its present name. The walls are decorated with 14th-century frescoes illustrating “Episodes from Jesus Christ’s Life”.


During our walking tour we stop at Retrobottega for lunch. Here you can taste typical Tuscan food created by the famous butcher Sergio Falaschi, his son, Andrea, and their staff by using high-quality local products and enjoy a wonderful view of the countryside. We suggest you have “crostini” and a selection of “salumi” (cold cuts) such as “sopressata”, ham, “rigatino”, “finocchiona”, “spuma di gota”, “mallegato”, pasta with sausage and leek sauce, “pappa al pomodoro”, Florentine steak with grated truffles and “Cantuccini” with “Vin Santo”.



SLOW FOOD San Miniato is a “Slow Town” and is famous for its wines, extra-virgin olive oil, pork products and many other local agricultural products used by craftsmen in order to create high-quality products, which have become the basis of "Slow Food". In this period of globalisation, some towns have decided to form an organisation, where slowness and typical local food are symbols of a good and healthy lifestyle so the Slow Town Association has come to life. San Miniato is famous for Spuma di Gota, Sopressata and Mallegato, created by the famous butcher Sergio Falaschi and his staff, who have just opened a restaurant behind the butcher’s shop. Mallegato is made by using pig blood and fat, nutmeg, cinnamon, pine nuts, raisins and other spices. This mixture is boiled and packed inside a casing. When it is cold, it is sliced and eaten as a starter. Spuma di Gota is made by flavouring pig cheeks and chopping them until they become soft. It is ideal on hot toasted bread as a starter. Sopressata is made by boiling pig’s head cheek, tongue and skin. All the laced ingredients are cut in small pieces. The mixture is, then, placed in a particular cloth so to make the pig-jelly getting out. It is eaten cold with bread.

MERCATALE The Slow Food Association and other associations organise a market called Mercatale, where consumers can buy local fresh products such as milk, eggs, fruit and vegetables directly from farmers and local producers. This market is held in Piazza Dante Alighieri on Sunday once a month. The famous Mercatale is part of a project called “filiera corta” ("short distribution chain"), a regional network for the promotion of fresh agricultural products in Tuscany.


After lunch we head off to the Tower of Frederick II, called the Fort, which is a 37-metre tall tower, built by Frederick II of Swabia in 1217. It was the central core of the Imperial defensive system. It is the landmark of the town. The tower was destroyed during the Second World War and rebuilt in 1958. From its top you can admire the special ribbon-like layout of the town and stunning landscapes such as the area of the Lower Valdarno, Volterra’s hills, the Apennines and the sea. Pier delle Vigne, Frederick II's Chancellor, was imprisoned here for treason until his death, as Dante writes in “Inferno"(13th "Canto”) in his “Divine Comedy".


Leaving the Fort behind us, we reach the 14th-century Convent and Church of Saint Francis. Saint Francis stayed in San Miniato for a short time and founded this convent. For many centuries it was one of the main Franciscan centres in Tuscany. Inside the church there are twelve altars dedicated to Franciscan saints and famous families from San Miniato such as the Buonaparte family, 16th and 17th-century paintings and frescoes depicting Saint Francis and other Franciscan saints, Saint Francis’s statue by Luca and Piero Bonicelli and a 16thcentury wooden crucifix.


We next head to Piazza Buonaparte, flanked by ancient palaces built by noble families from San Miniato between the 16th and the 18th centuries. In this square we can admire a marble monument dedicated to the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Leopoldo II also called Canapone, Palazzo Bonaparte and the Saints Sebastian and Rocco’s Church, which was the Bonaparte family ’s chapel and houses Saint Rocco’s relics and a Gothic water soup. This small one-nave church is dedicated to Saint Rocco, who is the patron saint of pilgrims, and it is one of the main stops along the Via Francigena. It dates back to the 15th century and was built on the ruins of a more ancient oratory. Our walking tour continues towards Piazza XX Settembre, where you can visit Santa Caterina’s Church dating back to the 13th century and the Euteleti Academy, which is housed in Palazzo Migliorati and contains Napoleon Bonaparte’s funeral mask and ancient documents.


Leaving this square we head for Piazza Dante Alighieri, also called “Il Piazzale”, where San Miniato’ s market is held on Tuesday mornings. Here you can see Giosue’ Carducci’s Statue. Giosue’ Carducci was a famous Italian writer, who lived in San Miniato from 1856 to 1857.

We next head off to Palazzo Formichini. The palace was built in the 16th century and contains works of art by famous artists such as Benedetto Bigordi called “Il Ghirlandaio”, Ludovico Cardi called “Il Cigoli”, Iacopo Chimenti called “L’ Empoli” and Giovanni Bilivert.


Our tour proceeds along via Giosue’ Carducci, where you can visit The Most Holy Annunziata’s Church, containing Saint Augustine’s statue, Saint Dorothea ’s relics and some frescoes .

From here it is easy to reach the Conservatory of Santa Chiara. The Monastery of Santa Chiara was built in the 13th century but the present building dates back to the 14th century. The nuns of Saint Clare’s order stayed there until the end of the 18th century when it was transformed into a Conservatory for girls' education. Later it became a school premises.


The building is arranged around a cloister with arcades and it has a chapel dedicated to Saint Mary Magdalene. The Conservatory houses “Noli me Tangere�, a wonderful painting by Ludovico Cardi, on which the appearance of Christ to Mary Magdalene is represented. There are also paintings by Jacopo Chimenti and Antonio Domenico Bamberini and a magnificent Medieval cross painted by Deodato Orlandi in 1301.


We leave your enjoy your afternoon at leisure. We suggest you have a walk along the famous Via Francigena, which runs through the town centre and touches small villages in the countryside. The landscape is enchanting with tobacco mills, old boroughs, amazing Medici villas and ancient churches. If you are interested in ancient history, you can visit San Genesio’s Archaeological Site. The site was considered one of the main stops along the Via Francigena, which was the pilgrimage route from Canterbury to Rome in the Middle Ages. The borough of San Genesio was chosen by Popes, Emperors and Bishops to host councils in ancient times and Bishop Sigeric stayed there during his journey back to Canterbury.



VIA FRANCIGENA During the Middle Ages, the Via Francigena was an important pilgrimage route, not a single road, although it included several possible routes that changed over the centuries. “All roads leads to Rome, you know!” The Via Francigena, unlike ancient Roman roads, connected abbeys, linking the sacred places of the Christian world. This road soon became an important route for men and goods, thus contributing to the great rebirth of European commerce. The increasing use of the Via Francigena as a trade route led to the development of many towns along the road. The route became the main route to take goods from the east (silk, spices...) to the markets of northern Europe and trade them for cloth from Flanders and Brabant to the Champagne fairs. In the 13th century the growing importance of Florence and the Arno Valley area marked the end of this ancient route. Nowadays the official route is divided into 79 stages and begins in Canterbury, continues in France, Switzerland and Italy and ends in Rome. It is 2,000 km long and crosses seven Italian regions - Valle d'Aosta, Piedmont, Lombardy, Emilia Romagna, Liguria, Tuscany and Lazio - and 140 municipalities, with a total of 44 stages in Italy. Today the Via Francigena is also a journey through the Italian landscape, which changes greatly: from the pastures of the Aosta Valley to the industrial and agricultural plains of Piedmont, from the Po River to the rolling hills of Emilia, from the harshness of northern Tuscany to the sweetness of the Crete Senesi and the enchantment of the volcanic lakes of Lazio. This journey makes modern pilgrims really understand the landscape, the past and the present. The journey turns into a gradual immersion in the roots of our culture, in which changes in the landscape, small and great works of art, the people we meet along the road, make us understand the essence of our heritage. San Miniato is the part of project “San Miniato in the heart of Tuscany Via Francigena". Low cost “pilgrim” accommodation (religious facilities, hostels, guesthouses…) and “tourist” accommodation (hotels, B&Bs, accommodation in farms,…) are available along the Via Francigena. A Festival called Francigena Melody Road is held on the Via Francigena in San Miniato in summer.



SAN GENESIO’S ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE The site was important in the Middle Ages as it hosted bishops’ conferences, papal councils and imperial diets and it was located near the River Elsa and along the Via Francigena, the main connecting route between Northern Europe and Rome. The history of this site goes back to even further than the Middle Ages. Excavations have brought to light evidence of activity in the area spanning from Etruscan times to the Roman and late Ancient periods. The area was inhabited from the 2nd/ 3rd centuries B.C. up to the 14th/ 15th centuries. Sigeric the Seriuos, the Archbishop of Canterbury who described the 79 stages of his itinerary from Rome to Canterbury in his journal, stayed in San Genesio during his journey in the year 990. Recent excavations have brought to light the ruins of a settlement known as Vicus Wallary, an 8th-century church, which was one of the biggest medieval churches in Tuscany, a mastery and an Etruscan village with its graveyard. Here you can visit a small museum housing archaeological artefacts and objects such as jars, cinerary urns and ceramic tableware.


We suggest you have dinner at Pizzeria Vecchio Cinema, located in the town centre. Here you can taste “bruschetta”, “salumi” (cold cuts) and ham or chickpea soup, “pappa al pomodoro”, pasta with pesto sauce or spaghetti with tomato sauce, chicken stew with beans with extra-virgin olive oil or pizza. If you want to taste high-quality meat, you can have dinner at La Bisteccheria, a nice restaurant where you can have a large variety of starters such as “crostini” and a selection of a selection of “salumi” (cold cuts), “tagliata” or Florentine steak with roast potatoes and “Cantuccini” with “Vin Santo”.


TRUFFLED PARMESAN RI SOTTO Ingredients 500 g rice 60 g butter 100 g grated parmesan 50 g white truffles (sliced or pâté)

Cook the rice traditionally and add grated parmesan, butter and a half of the truffle. Mix and serve hot with slices of white truffle.



EXTRA-VIRGIN OLIVE OIL Tuscany is famous for its top-quality extra-virgin olive oil. We suggest you have a half-day tour in La Serra, a small village near San Miniato, in order to discover the secrets of extra-virgin olive oil production. You will visit Frantoio Samminiatese, a pressing mill immersed in the Tuscan countryside and surrounded by lovely olive groves. “Frantoio Samminiatese” has been producing extra-virgin olive oil for over 50 years and the owners are excellent at the art of pressing and growing olive trees. Here you can taste “bruschetta” with extra-virgin olive oil and purchase a large variety of products such as aromatized olive oil, biological extravirgin olive oil and “IGP Tuscan” extravirgin olive oil.


After dinner you can stop at Caffè Centrale, where you can listen to music and play board games with friends or at the lovely Chalet, which is a pleasant open-air meeting place. Here you can chat with friends and listen to music, sitting at the tables located in front of the kiosk. You can also have a cup of tea at Essenza, a nice café in Piazza del Popolo.

In summer San Miniato attracts lots of young people and tourists as a great variety of events are organized in the town centre in the evening. The main events are La Notte Nera, La Luna è Azzurra, Festa del Teatro, A Castle of Sounds, Francigena Melody Road, Pinocchio in Strada and Palio di San Rocco.



LA LUNA Ăˆ AZZURRA Enjoy an evening of traditional Italian entertainment right in the heart of the town! La Luna è Azzurra has been held in San Miniato since the 1980s and attracts children, young people and adults from all over Tuscany. It features puppet, mime and music performances and puppet workshops for all age range.

LA NOTTE NERA La Notte Nera is held in San Miniato in June. Here you can taste a large variety of black truffle dishes and local wine. A great deal of restaurants and stalls, located in the main squares and streets of San Miniato, sell black truffles and other typical local products together with specialties from other Tuscan cities. San Miniato is famous for its truffles and the National White Truffle Exhibition, which has been held here in November for 46 years and is a market which attracts thousands of Italian and foreign visitors. The white truffle of San Miniato is known as the "Food of Kings" and populates the tables of the best restaurants in the world. The white truffle found in San Miniato Hills is the "Tuber Magnatum Pico" and is the most valuable type of truffle. San Miniato White truffle is a unique product. It features a light yellow colour with brown shades and it has a long-lasting delicious flavours. It is very expensive, because it is found in moderate quantities in particular periods of the year. You can find white truffles only from October to December.



FESTA DEL TEATRO Theatre, plays and all types of performances have very old roots in San Miniato, perhaps ever since San Genesio, an actor, was chosen as its Patron Saint many centuries ago. The famous Istituto del Dramma Popolare (Folk Drama Institute), which collaborates with "Accademia di Arte Drammatica" (Dramatic Art Academy) in Rome, has had its headquarters in San Miniato since 1947 and they put on an openair performance of a religious drama in July every year. This performance attracts international dramatists, directors and actors.



SAN MINIATO & PINOCCHIO One hundred years ago the name of San Miniato Basso was “Il Pinocchio”. Its name came from the name of a bridge “Pinocchio” built there in the 14th century. The area near the bridge was called “Ponte al Pidocchio” because dirty pilgrims and beggars (“Pidocchiosi” means full of lice in Italian) on a pilgrimage on the Via Francigena stopped there. According to a legend, Collodi, whose real name was Carlo Lorenzini, took inspiration from the name of this town and its citizens for his famous children’s book “The Adventures of Pinocchio”. In his book Collodi wrote “I knew a whole family of Pinocchi once-Pinocchio the father, Pinocchia the mother, and Pinocchi the children-and they were all happy. The richest of them begged for his living.” Collodi’s father worked as a cook for a rich family in the Pinocchio area and while going to Collodi, where his mother lived, Carlo often stopped at Ponte a Elsa Station and Osteria Bianca, walked in Val Del Grillo and reached “Il Pinocchio”. This area was probably used as a setting for his famous children’s book.



THE LEATHER & TANNING DISTRICT The area of Santa Croce sull'Arno and Ponte a Egola, in the municipality of San Miniato, is a very famous tanning and leather manufacturing district. This area is also one of the most important tanning districts in the world, producing about 85% of Italian leather, with the brand "Vero Cuoio Italiano" (Real Italian Leather) and vegetable-tanned leathers. About one hundred companies offer the national and foreign markets top-quality products for shoes and every type of leather goods. Innovation, technological development and constant attention to the environment led this district to build one of the first and most efficient centralized depuration plants in Italy in 1980.



The famous Corteo Storico of San Miniato is a historical costume parade, which commemorates famous people who lived in San Miniato in the 13th and 14th centuries. In this period San Miniato was divided into three parts called “Terzieri” and City Wards. • Il Terziere di Poggighisi was divided into three city wards: Poggighisi, Pancole and Sant’Andrea • Il Terziere di Castelvecchio was divided into two city wards: Santo Stefano and Castelvecchio. • Il Terziere di Forisporta was divided into two city wards: Faognana and Forisporta. Every city ward had its own Coats of Arms, soldiers and hospitals. San Miniato was a free Commune and was governed by a “Podestà” and a “Capitano del Popolo”. It also had an Imperial Vicar and, later, a Florentine Vicar (14th century).


CAMARLENGO - THE LORD CHAMBERLAIN The Lord Chamberlain, who was a priest or a cardinal, administered the properties and the revenues of the Church.

LADIES AND PAGES They were men and women who served noble people in the Middle Ages.


COSTANZA D’ALTAVILLA (1146-1198) Costanza d’Altavilla was the last German heir of the Norman Kings of Sicily and the wife of Henry VI, the Holy Roman Emperor. She was the daughter of Ruggero II, King of Sicily, and married Henry VI, Frederick Barbarossa‘s son, in 1186. She was the Empress of Germany and the Queen of Sicily and reigned with her husband until 1186 when he died. In 1187 she reigned with her son Frederick II of Swabia, the future Holy Roman Emperor. She died in 1198 when her son was seven years old therefore she left him under Pope Innocenzo III‘s protection.


FREDERICK II (1194-1250)

Frederick II of Swabia was the grandson of Frederick Barbarossa and the son of Henry III, the Holy Roman Emperor. He was the King of Sicily and the Holy Roman Emperor. He was a man of great culture and a highly significant European monarch in the Middle Ages. He chose San Miniato as the seat of the Imperial financial administration for central Italy and Tuscia because the town was situated near important cities such as Florence, Volterra, Lucca and Pisa and on the famous Via Francigena, which was the main connecting route between Northern Europe and Rome in the Middle Ages. He built his castle in Piazza del Duomo in San Miniato in 1218.He fortified the Fort, called La Rocca, and used it as a political prison. Frederick II imprisoned priests, cardinals, nobles and his friend, Pier delle Vigne, in the Fort in San Miniato.


PIER DELLE VIGNE (1190-1249) Pier delle Vigne was a writer and a diplomat. He was Frederick II‘s Secretary and Chancellor. He was charged with treason and imprisoned in the Fort in San Miniato in 1248. After a year in prison, he was visited by the Emperor; he was unable to communicate or defend himself so the Emperor had his eyes ripped out. Unable to bear it, he committed suicide in the Fort. Pier delle Vigne is mentioned in the Divineh Comedy by Dante Alighieri (“Inferno”, 13th “Canto”). He reveals Dante and Virgil his identity saying: “I am the man who held both the keys of Frederick’s heart…”. This means that Frederick II trusted him a lot. This sentence is written on a stone under the Fort in San Miniato.

TEUTONIC KNIGHT These German knights belonged to the Teutonic Order, a Medieval German military order. They served as knights in the Crusades. Frederick II was linked to them from the political and spiritual point of view.



Matilde of Canossa was an Italian noblewoman. She was a great warrior and one of the few medieval women to be remembered for her military accomplishments. She is sometimes called the Great Countess. She was the daughter of Bonifacio IV, ruler of many counties such as Reggio, Modena, Mantua, Brescia and Ferrara, and Beatrice of Lorena, one of Frederick II’s daughters. She was Countess of Tuscany and visited San Miniato many times. Probably she was born in San Miniato and lived in the Imperial Palace in Piazza del Duomo. She died in 1115.

MESSER BARONE MANGIADORI Messer Barone Mangiadori was a great and successful knight, who lived in San Miniato and became the “Podestà” of Siena. He fought in the battle of Campaldino (1289), a famous battle between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines. His palace, Magiadori Palace, was destroyed in 1369. 36

PRIEST OF ST. ANTHONY’S ORDER He was a priest who belonged to St. Anthony’s Order. He was one of the priests who lived in St. Stephen’s Church in San Miniato and ran a hospital for the people who suffered from St. Anthony’s fire and leprosy (1352).


Franco Sacchetti was a writer, a poet and a novelist. He wrote “Trecento Novelle” (Three Hundred Tales) in the vernacular, the language of the common people. Some of these tales are about San Miniato or are set in this town. He lived in San Miniato and was the “Podesta’” of San Miniato (1386). 37

LENA PITTI Lena Pitti was Jacopo Bonaparte’s wife so she belonged to the Bonaparte family. Before dying she asked for a Holy Mass to be celebrated in the Sanctuary of the Most Holy Crucifix at dawn every day in order to commemorate her family whose members had been beheaded in Gargozzi at dawn.

BRUNA DI POGGIGHISI AND SER ALESSANDRO TURRI Bruna di Poggighisi and Ser Alessandro Turri are the protagonists of “La Bruna di Poggighisi-Storia Samminiatese del XVI secolo” by Guido Pieragnoli (1886). Bianca (La Bruna) was an orphan and Ser Alessandro Turri, a nobleman from San Miniato, adopted her. Bianca fell in love with a Spanish officer, Ruiz, but later she married Goro, a loyal compatriot. The story is set in the period when San Miniato was besieged by Florentine and Spanish troops in the 16th century. 38

MONSIGNOR UGOLINO GRIFONI(1504-1576) Monsignor Ugolino Grifoni was Alessandro and Cosimo I of the Medici Family’s Secretary. He built two buildings, a palace in Piazza Santissima Annunziata in Florence and a palace in Piazza Grifoni in San Miniato. These buildings were created by famous artists such as Michelangelo, Giuliano di Baccio D’Angnolo, Buontalenti, Ammannati and Gianbologna. Monsignor Ugolino Grifoni is buried in the Church of San Domenico in San Miniato.

LUDOVICO CARDI-IL CIGOLI (1559-1613) Ludovico Cardi, whose nickname “Il Cigoli” derives from his birthplace, was born in Cigoli in 1559. He was a painter, a sculptor and an architect. He





Family’s Court in Florence. He also worked on St. Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and frescoed Santa Maria Maggiore’s Chapel for Pope Paolo V. He is the best painter San Miniato can boast.


GIOVANNI BILIVERT (1576-1644) He was an Italian painter who worked in “Il Cigoli”’s workshop.


Maria Maddalena of Austria was Grand Duchess of Tuscany, Archduchess of Hasburg and Queen of San Miniato. When her husband, Cosimo II of the Medici Family, died she reigned in Tuscany for eleven years. San Miniato became the capital of her reign (1620-1631) and Palazzo Grifoni was her Royal Palace. She made San Miniato a bishop’s seat in 1622. Her marble statue was placed in Piazza del Seminario, but it was destroyed in the 18th century. 40

NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821) Napoleon Bonaparte, the famous Emperor of France, was born in Corsica but his family was of Italian noble origins and they had most of their properties in San Miniato. Napoleon came to San Miniato during his campaign in Italy in 1796 in order to meet Filippo Bonaparte, who was a priest and the Bonaparte family’s last descendant. Napoleon’s wax Funeral Mask is housed in the Euteleti Academy in San Miniato. The Oratory of San Rocco was the ancient chapel of the Bonaparte family.



Pietro Leopoldo II was Grand Duke of Tuscany (1824-1859). He was called "Canapone" for his hair colour. When he was in exile in Vienna, he was educated by Pietro Bagnoli, a priest and poet from San Miniato. He always had a good relationship with Pietro Bagnoli, his teacher. He set up a lot of institutions such as state schools, the railway station and the Court of Justice in San Miniato. A marble statue by Luigi Pampaloni was built in his honour in Piazza Bonaparte.



Monsignor Torello Pierazzi was a man of culture and an excellent priest. He was San Miniato’s Bishop from 1834 to 1851.He created a lot of important institutions, re-organized the Euteleti Academy and set up a library in the Palace of the Seminary.



INT MINIATO Our town has the name of a saint, Saint Minias (Minas, Miniatus) (Italian: Miniato), who is venerated as the first Cristian martyr in Florence. According to a legend, Minias was an Armenian king or prince serving in the Roman Army or going on a pilgrimage to Rome. He became a hermit near Florence and Emperor Decius, who was persecuting the Christians, wanted him to become pagan. Minias refused, so he was stoned and thrown to a lion or a panther or a leopard in an amphitheatre, but he survived. Finally, he was beheaded near Piazza della Signoria. The legend states that he picked up his own head, crossed the River Arno and returned to his hermitage on the hill known as Mons Florentinus. The name of the town comes from a small church dedicated to Saint Minias, built by a group of Lombards who settled here in 783 A.D. Saint Minias is depicted as a young prince holding a crown, crowned with a rod, palm and a lily, carrying his head. The church of San Miniato al Monte in Florence was built on the grave of this Christian martyr.


PIER DELLE VIGNE (1190-1249) Pier Delle Vigne was a writer and a diplomat. He was the Secretary and Chancellor of Frederick II of Swabia, Frederick Barbarossa’s grandson, and he was the King of Sicily and the Holy Roman Emperor. According to the legend, Pier Delle Vigne was charged with treason and imprisoned in the Fort in San Miniato in 1248. After a year in prison he was visited by the Emperor. He was unable to communicate or defend himself so the Emperor had his eyes ripped out. Unable to bear it, he committed suicide in the Fort. Pier delle Vigne is mentioned in the “Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri (“Inferno”, 13th “Canto “). He reveals Dante and Virgil his identity saying “I am the man who held both the keys of Frederick’s heart…”. This means Frederick II trusted him a lot. This sentence is written on a stone under the Fort in San Miniato.


GOSTANZA, THE WITCH FROM SAN MINIATO Gostanza, the witch from San Miniato, was imprisoned here. Gostanza was a 50-year-old widow who lived in San Miniato about 500 years ago. She was a poor peasant and earned her living as a midwife. The misadventures of this woman started in the Castle of Lari, near Pisa, in 1594, when two women and two men charged Gostanza da Libbiano with provoking several babies’ death by using witchcraft.

Gostanza was interrogated in a trial, which took place in San Miniato, and she admitted she had used ointments and placed a candle on women in labour as a symbol of good luck but she denied she had provoked new-borns’ death. The inquisitor sentenced her to the “torture of the ropes”. After being hung by a rope which stretched her arms she admitted she had practised witchcraft upon several people. In the following days the poor woman began to confess more and more in order to avoid new 47

tortures. She even admitted she had had a relationship with several demons and she had taken on the form of a black cat, sucked children’s blood and stolen and fried consecrate Hosts in order to offer them as a sacrifice to a demon called “Polletto”. She was going to be burnt at the stake but on 19th November 1594, Dionigi da Costacciaro, a new Florentine inquisitor, realized her confessions had been invented by a human mind and not by the devil and her confessions were just lies so he decided to keep Gostanza in prison for a few days and put an end to her torture. The inquisitor interrogated Gostanza on different occasions and finally on 24th November he asked her if she was willing to swear that her confessions were true. The widow explained that they were all lies and admitted she had confessed everything just in order to put an end to her torture and die. The trial came to an end with Gostanza’ s absolution and the acknowledgment of her innocence on 28th November. The inquisitor ordered her not to use potions any longer and move to another town.




Dilvo Lotti was born in San Miniato on 27 June 1914. He was a painter, a sculptor and a graphic designer. He was an exponent of the European Expressionism. He started painting in 1931 using a box of oil colours his teacher , Francesco Chiappelli, had given him ; this box is still kept in his house in Miniato. He studied at “Istituto d’ Arte” in Florence, where he got a diploma in 1935. In the 1930s he lived in Florence where he met famous writers and artists in the literary café, “Caffe’ delle Giubbe Rosse”, a famous meeting place for Italian artists and writers. After living in Milan for a short period, he won the “Panerai Prize” in 1940 with his masterpiece “Still Life and Child”(“Natura Morta e Bambino”). He participated in famous Italian art exhibitions such as “La Triennale di Milano”(1941),” La Quadriennale di Roma”(1941) and “La Biennale di Venezia” (1942). He married Giuseppina Gazzarrini in 1943 and he lived with her in their house-museum in San Miniato until his death. In 1947 Dilvo Lotti created the “Istituto del Dramma Popolare" (“Folk Drama Institute”) with some of his friends. Since then an open-air performance of a religious drama has been put on in San Miniato in July every year. It attracts international dramatists, directors and actors. Dilvo Lotti created twenty-two engravings for the posters of this performance. In the same period he directed three plays: “Marianna Pineda”, “Uno cantava per tutti” and ”Essi arrivarono ad una città”. 51

He wrote an autobiographical novel “La Morte del Paese” in 1947, and three historical essays: “San Miniato, Vita di un’Antica Città” (1980), “Pietro Parigi, Incisore Fiorentino” (1994) and “Napoleone Buonaparte, Toscano Europeo” (1995). From 1953 to 1985 he frescoed important churches and buildings such as the Cathedral in Pontedera , the Refectory of the “Palace of the Seminary” in San Miniato, the “Sala del Consiglio” of “Cassa di Risparmio” in San Miniato, “The Church of Santa Marcella” in Rome, and ”La Mogliazza” in Pavia. His works of art were exhibited in art galleries in Florence, Venice, Genoa, Rome, Pisa, Milan, London (1962), Biarritz (1971), Hildesheim (1995) and Villeneuve les Avignon (1999). His main works are “Presa di San Miniato” (1931), “I ragazzi di Sant'Andrea”, ”Pugilatori”, “Cristo Deriso” (1935), “Autoritratto” (1935), “La fuga in Egitto”, “Il Re dell'Oro”, “Narciso”, “Il Cardinale Prigioniero”, “La Sposa Calva”, “Processione degli Scalzi”, “Martirio del Savonarola”,“Gesù Divino Lavoratore”(1957),”Il Crocifisso”, “San Miniato nel Tempo"(1985),”Il Tempo”, “Pier Delle Vigne”, ”L’Annunciazione”, ”L'Ultima Cena”, “Deposizione in Città”, “Gesù Divino Lavoratore”, “La Carità”, ”Il Crocifisso”, “Le Déjeuner in Piazza San Marco”, La Presa di San Miniato” , “Il Vangelo di San Matteo”, “ Il Regista”, ”Pulcinella”, ”Processione a San Miniato”... He also painted several oil, acrylic and ink self-portraits by using different techniques between 1931 and 2005.


Dilvo Lotti loved San Miniato. He was an art teacher at Scuola Media “Franco Sacchetti” in San Miniato for many years. In 1968 he organized the first “Kite Festival”, which is still very popular with children and teenagers. Dilvo Lotti died in San Miniato on 22 April 2009.



Title: Procession in San Miniato Painter: Dilvo Lotti Date:1971 Technique: Oil painting The title of this painting is “Procession in San Miniato”. In the foreground we can see lots of people following a procession: they are coming from the countryside and they are heading off to San Miniato. The procession occupies the whole painting starting on the right and ending at the top on the left. The valleys and hills are dotted with houses, cypresses and other trees .In the background we can see the city of San Miniato with its Cathedral, Matilda’s Tower, The Tower of Frederick II and St. Francis‘s Convent and Church. There are houses, buildings and towers in the centre and on the left of the painting. The painting is characterized by several horizontal lines and some concave and convex lines representing the typical structure of the landscape of San Miniato. The fields have particular shapes and colours and are characterized by different kinds of cultivation. The cypresses form vertical lines which correspond to architectural buildings on the horizon. The sky is blue and pink and is characterized by horizontal lines. 54


Title : San Miniato nel Tempo Painter: Dilvo Lotti Date: 1985 Technique: Oil painting This painting was painted for the famous “San Miniato nel Tempo” exhibition, which was organized by Dilvo Lotti in 1985. The title of this painting is “San Miniato nel Tempo” .In the foreground; there are some people and some objects on a table. On the left we can see the painter's self- portrait, his wife, Giuseppina, who looks very young and is touching a white dove, and a woman with a bunch of red roses in her hands. In the centre of the painting there are some objects ,which are symbol of his artistic and cultural life such as brushes, paintings, books ,grapes, apples, pomegranates, a slice of watermelon and a clay money -box. On the right there is a woman, who has a wreath of grapes on her head and a glass of red wine in her hands, and a man who has a deck of cards in his hands. In the background we can see the city of San Miniato with its Matilda Tower and the Tower of Frederick II, some buildings and some fields. In this painting San Miniato is portrayed as an ideal world where the artist can live in contact with the people and the things he loves: his wife, his paintings and his birthplace. Bibliografia: Fondazione San Miniato Promozione; “San Miniato Terra d’Eccellenza”; ”Sistema Museale San Miniato”; G. Nanni, I.Regoli ,“San Miniato. Guida storico-artistica della citta’ e del suo territorio;Dilvo Lotti “San Miniato Vita di un’antica Citta’”; San Miniato Comitato Manifestazioni Popolari “Corteo Storico di San Miniato” Sitografia:;; www.slowtuscany. it ;; ;



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