Posted by: Debra Kolkka | June 22, 2020

A visit to San Miniato

San Miniato is a lovely town between Florence and Pisa. It sits on 3 hilltops and was an important strategic lookout point in ancient times because of its prominent position along the  Via Francigena, the road that connected France to Rome. Its lofty position offered excellent views over the Arno Valley and surrounding countryside.

The historical centre is small and easy to navigate. There is a car park in the centre and more parking below the town with an enormous lift to bring you to the top.

I wandered through the piazza and found this.

It has a map and information about San Miniato inside…and a cool place to sit on a hot day.

I walked further uphill and through an arch.


This is the Piazza della Republica.  The slightly curved building dates from medieval times when it formed part of the city walls. The wooden doors at the bottom would open to become a shop counter. They date from the 13th century. The decoration above the doors is from the 1600s.

There are a couple of stairways to take you up to the open courtyard above where you will find the Palazzo dei Vicari dell’Imperatore with its ancient tower. The tower predates the 12th century building.


In the same courtyard is the cathedral dating from the 12th century.

The pulpit featuring bas relief dates from 1274.

The marble font is from 1638.

I don’t know how of the stained glass window is.

There are great views from the courtyard in front of the church.

From there it is a pretty walk up to the Torre di Federico II, built around 1217 – 1221.


The stronghold was the centre of a defence system, which included other towers and the bell tower of the cathedral. From here the roads between Florence and Pisa and the Francigena between the Valdelsa and Lucca could be guarded. The tower was destroyed in 1944 but was later rebuilt in its original form. Today it is has a grassed area beside it which is used for festivals, one of which is the Festa Aquilone, the kite festival, held the first Sunday after Easter.

There are 360 degree views from the grassy platform.

Back in the centre I found a delightful shop owned by a couple who make all the glass pieces they sell.

The area is famous for white truffles. San Miniato has several places where you can buy truffle products and they feature on restaurant menus.

This well stocked Alimentari drew me in. I wish is was my local!

I had read about an excellent vegetarian restaurant called Maggese in San Miniato. Unfortunately it was not open when I visited but I pressed my nose against the door and decided I must return.


Nearby I found Essenza where I had lunch.

Everything, including the bread, was delicious.

The amuse-bouche featured truffles.

Since San Miniato is famous for truffles I chose the tagliolini with fresh truffles. I think it is the best pasta I have eaten in Italy.

The filetto di manzo lardellato was perfectly cooked.

San Miniato is just over an hour away from home in Bagni di Lucca…I will be back soon.


  1. It makes me so sad…we were supposed to be in Italy for almost three months. Enjoy your stay and eat something special….

    • I was supposed to be returning to Australia last Saturday, but for many reasons I am here until October…not a bad place to be stuck. I hope you can come next year.

  2. We have not yet been to San Miniato but it was on our list to visit this trip. But the best laid plans…maybe next trip! So thanks for sharing it with us.

    • It is a great town. I am going back to the vegetarian restaurant and to explore a bit further.

  3. I so enjoy these blogs and was excited to see Caparis spinosa growing out of the brick wall behind the Bevedere Torre di Fredrico sign.
    It’s unopened flower buds being the source of capers !!

    • I know! It was a fine caper plant. I am happy to say that I finally have a couple growing out of my walls at Casa Debbio. It took about 3 years after I put some caper berries in crevices.

  4. Beautiful photographs Debra… but I did not see a single person in any of them. Is that still an indication of people’s reticence to get out and about or just a total lack of tourists?

    • I generally try to keep people out of my photos, but you are correct, there are few people out and about. There are few tourists around and many locals are still wary of being out.
      I have been in Florence where there were more people but certainly no crowds like yin would expect at this time of year. Some businesses are still not open. It is quite sad.

  5. We have spent our last 3 summers in Lucca and have been gutted to have had to cancel our trip this summer. Reading your blog is giving us vicarious thrills so when I see a new post in my inbox I drop what I am doing to read it.
    We hadn’t visited San Miniato yet but after reading this we will add it to our list. Thank you for your lovely informative posts. I so enjoy watching your garden grow and following you on your adventures!

    • San Miniato is lovely with a good selection of places to eat and shop. I found it interesting and will return. I can see it becoming a regular place to visit. Thank you for your kind comments. It is great to be able to move around again.

  6. I stayed there for a night when I was walking on the Via Francigena down to Rome. Did you know that it’s the ancestral home of the Bonaparte family? Napoleon’s father moved to Corsica from there. He visited once to see his Uncle who was a priest. There’s the remains of a passageway from the old family home to the church so that ladies of the family could go to church in privacy.

    • I did not know that! Thank you for the info. I will look for the house when I go back.

  7. Loved that walk round and lunch in San Miniato with you. Church ceiling frescoes beautiful.

    • It is a great little town. There are so many to explore in lovely Italy.

  8. It looks like a lovely town…and quite large. Fabulous views and the food looks delightful.

    • The town spreads over 3 hills, but I was just in the small centre on one of the hills. It is lovely and I can see it becoming a regular place to visit.

  9. Since I can’t travel to Europe at the moment, especially to Italy, every post of you is a delight to me. I can smell the flavors of an Alimentari store, and enjoy the virtual walk through such a gem of an Italian small city.

    • The alimentari was excellent. I wish it was closer to home. There is also an excellent butcher and truffle shop. It is very well served for a small town. There are a few restaurants I would like to try.

  10. Looks like a fabulous place for a day trip or even longer.

    • It would be a lovely place to stay, central to many interesting towns. I enjoyed my day there.

  11. Loved following you on your walk around San Miniato which looks so interesting. We are sure it will be on many itineries of anyone able to travel soon. The Cathedral looked magnificent with the beautiful stained glass and ceiling. Also loved the glass shop in fact could see some pieces I covet. Lunch at Essenze must have been really good as it did in your photos. Enjoy your travels & we look forward to future posts.

    • It was a great day out. I will certainly return soon.

  12. Beautiful! I can’t wait to start travelling again soon!

    • San Miniato would be a good place to start.

      • Just researched it! It looks stunning, thanks for the suggestion!

  13. Thanks for sharing your visit to this town. I haven’t been and now I think it would be a great day trip from Lucca.

    • It would be an excellent day trip from Lucca. The food alone would take me back.

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  15. […] visited the delightful historic centre of San Miniato in summer. A visit to San Miniato .  Maggese was only open for lunch on weekends at that time. Now, because restaurants must close at […]

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