The people of San Miniato
are an odd type: frank and open as the Tuscans, but serious
and reserved like one who is convinced that they have
been privileged to be born there. Since San Miniato is
a crossing of winds, so their community has opened itself
to commerce and contacts with the outside world.
Frederick II of Swabia was a friend to San Miniato, and
stayed there more than once, as mentioned before. The
early building of the Franciscan Convent, one of the most
imposing and important buildings in the city, was said
to be the work of the same St. Francis when he was just
over thirty years old. It was built over the ruins of
the protoromanesque church of San Miniato, that gave origin
to the city around the year 700.
Repetti, in his Choreographic Dictionary of Tuscany, defines
San Miniato as the “breeding-ground of illustrious men”.
Matilde di Canossa and Francesco Sforza were born there,
the latter giving rise to the Visconti family of Milan.
Five centuries later another man from San Miniato, the
senator and famous oncologist Pietro Bucalossi, will become
mayor of the Lombard city.
In 1559 Ludovico Cardi, the Tuscan Correggio, also was
born in San Miniato. Known as “il Cigoli”, his works hang
in the Uffizi, Louvre, Prado and Hermitage museums.
The Corsican branch of the Bonaparte family is descended
from a noble San Miniato family as well. Twice the young
Napoleon lived in San Miniato with relatives, and he returned
again in 1797 during the Italian Campaign, when he interrupted
his advance and held a council of war in his Monsignor
uncle’s house in the square having the same name. Newspaper
articles of the time kept in the archives excitedly reported
this extraordinary fact.
San Miniato was where Giosuè Carducci, a young secondary
school professor, started his career as a poet which would
eventually earn him the Nobel prize. Here, on the top
of the hill, he published his first collection of verses:
The Resources of San Miniato al Tedesco, printed by Ristori.
Seventy years later another great poet, Mario Luzi, will
take the place Carducci once held as a teacher.
Art and history, culture and poetry. An unusual combination
that still produces effects. The Taviani brothers’ motion
pictures, (both were born in the city centre), have more
than once told the story of San Miniato as a metaphor
of the world, such as the microcosm of the fratricidal
war in their film “Notte di San Lorenzo” (Nights of San