San Miniato al Monte

Christian mythology tells us that a man named Miniato, an Armenian hermit who may have been the son of a king and served in the Roman army, was martyred in 250 AD by Emperor Decius for refusing to renounce his Christian ideals in favour of honouring Roman deities. After his execution and in cephalophoric tradition, legend states that his headless body gathered its head and climbed the hill outside Florence’s city walls to its final resting place.

Now the site of the picturesque Tuscan Romanesque Basilica of San Miniato al Monte, and supposedly housed within its crypt are the earthly remains of Saint Minias. Coincidently among the graves and family crypts in the monumental cemetery (Cimitero Monumentale), which is housed within the fortified walls of the Basilica and its adjoining monastery, is the burial place of the Italian author Carlo Collodi, who penned The Adventures of Pinocchio.

The main image was taken in the pre-dawn light from the steps leading up to the church. For me, the mood of this image encapsulated my feelings from a previous day’s visit. Although, the church and cemetery are on the must-see list for any art pilgrim visiting Florence. I felt a sense of unease as the church’s atmosphere felt defensive, withdrawn and inward-looking.

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