San Miniato al Monte is indeed my favorite church in Florence, partly because of its location with one of the most splendid views in Tuscany, and partly because of the Romanesque design. The Romanesque style is vastly under-rated by tourists and art lovers alike. It's softer, rounder, simpler than its showier Gothic sister. The surfaces are flat and painted or inlaid with mosaics rather than the robust decoration of the Baroque. The 13th century interior of this church is dark and quiet with massive columns dating from Roman times that have been re-used. The main mosaic is splendid and includes St. Minias, Christ in his best Byzantine pose, and the Virgin. The floors are mosaic as well and divided into seven sections with animals from the zodiac.
This particular church is reached after an approximately 20 -30 minute climb up into the hills from the Piazzale Michaelangelo, an overlook above the city of Florence. As you climb toward the top, at first you see only the top of the church, and the higher you climb, the more of the church facade comes into view. A very interesting graveyard lies just in front of the church. You'll be winded after the climb, so take some time and enjoy the cemetery and the splendid view before entering the church.
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