San Miniato has
history of Etruscan and later Roman colonies, as
evidenced by excavations of a III century B.C.
necropolis in Fontevivo and those of a Roman villa
The finds excavated there are kept in
the Archaeological Museum in Florence and a
smaller number in the Museo Civico (Municipal
The original core of the city dates back to the
8th century when, according to the original
document from 713 kept in the Archivio
Arcivescovile (Archiepiscopal Archives) in Lucca,
seventeen Longobards built a church there
dedicated to the martyr Miniato.
The city's origin is therefore Germanic, and since
the Middle Ages it would be known as San Miniato
In the span of five centuries San
Miniato grew as a medieval bastion, from when Otto
I of Saxony in 962 made it one of the seats of his
imperial government, up to when Frederick II of
Swabia built his castle there in 1218, making it
the focal point for central Italy's tax collection.
After the decline of Swevian power, San Miniato
became an independent commune.
The city grew to
include large convents, schools, institutions and
The town Statutes, kept in the
historical archives, give evidence to the
independence and good fortune they enjoyed. Only
at the end of the 14th century was San Miniato
forced to go under the rule of the newly powerful
Florentine Signoria (Seigniory).
It will be another German, Maria Maddalena of
Austria, wife of Cosimo dei Medici, to help San
Miniato by making it the bishop's see in 1622.
In gratitude, a large marble statue was erected in
Unfortunately, it was destroyed at the
end of the eighteenth century by the San Miniato
Jacobins during the French Revolution and today
only a large fragment of it remains near the
The city saw its strongest growth take place in
the following century.
The diocesan see enriched it with the Santuario
del Santissimo Crocifisso (Sanctuary of the Holy
Crucifix) and the large Seminary.
Cultural life was fertile and study and cultural academies, such
as the Affidati and later the Euteleti, were
San Miniato is well-established city by the end of
the 19th century.
It will be the Second World War
to inflict on it a hard blow when the German army
mine and destroy Frederick II's castle fortress
and a large part of the old medieval districts.
Reconstruction is quick though: in 1957 the
fortress is rebuilt from the rubble, and the city's
rebirth can be admired from the plain below.