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Basilica di San Miniato al Monte, Florence

By Friday, June 28, 2013 , ,

Above, the basilica and an Olivetan Monastery to the right.

The south side of the Arno rises up into hills, and even from the other side of the river you can see the Basilica di San Miniato al Monte and the tower next to it. (The little tower rising above the trees against the hill in the middle of the photo below)

The church was built in the Romanesque style and named after St Miniato who was an Armenian prince in the Roman army. Persicuted for being Christian, he was first to be eaten by wild animals, but when the panther supposed to eat him turned up his nose, Miniato was beheaded. Legend has it he picked up his head, carried it across the Arno and up the hill, to the site of the future church.
In a few places in Florence we saw these painted in windows. At first I assumed they had to be built over for some reason or other and the new wall was painted to look like a window to keep the continuity. But then I noticed that they appear in a specific pattern of one real window, one painted window, one real window, etc. over and over again, and must have been planned that way. Other places in Florence have the same thing: windows painted on to make a house look more symmetrical, or shutters just in paint to decorate a window.

Although this church wasn't nearly as big as other cathedrals I've visited, I did in particular like that it retained the sense of age that many restored, renovated and otherwise updated churches lack. For example, the facade of the Duomo was redone in 1887 - making it quite new in fact.
John the Baptist (to the left of Mary) is entertaining Jesus with a little birdie.

The Basillica is just a little further up the hill from the amazing views from Michelangelo Piazza, and you can easily see them in the same trip. If you want to read more about Bascilica di San Miniato al Monte, check out this entertaining and detailed post on the blog Florence for Free!

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