Florence: San Miniato al Monte

Back in 1018, a community of monks began to guard the Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, situated on one of Florence's highest points.

Being one of Florence's highest points means that it offers one of the best views of Florence, too. How stunning is this view?

The monks are still there, and each evening you can hear them sing in Latin during Mass. They also have a shop which sells their home-made wine, honey and teas.

As seems to be the case in any Italian church you go in, San Miniato al Monte is full of beautiful and ornate paintings, statues and mosaics.

There's also the Monumental Cemetery outside the Basilica, which is worth exploring. It's not as opulent as the Cimitero Monumentale in Milan we visited last year, but it's still pretty impressive.

We hunted high and low and tried to spot the grave of Pinocchio creator, Carlo Collodi, but only realised when we had left that we were looking for a grave with his pen name when we should have been looking for his actual name, Carlo Lorenzini!

We did spot however the family tomb of Franco Zeffirelli. (Zeffirelli is very much alive, by the way.) I associate Franco Zeffirelli with his 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet which I had to watch as part of my Key Stage 3 SAT prep. I can remember being most put out because three years earlier a certain Baz Luhrmann had directed a version of Romeo and Juliet with a certain Mr DiCaprio... Yeah, we didn't get to watch that version.
It's definitely worth a hike up to San Miniato al Monte, or you can get a taxi from the Duomo area for around 10. Be warned though, Italian driving is as bad as they claim it is. We used taxis twice in Florence, and nearly ended up in an accident both times. Entry to the basilica and grounds is free, but it's always appreciated if you have some coins to put in the donation box. x

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