Saturday, 23 June 2007

Basilica di San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo

On Thursday afternoon we caught the number 13 bus up the hill to Basilica di San Miniato al Monte and Piazzale Michelangelo, a short ride but a wise one given that the path is steep and we are lazy.

The bus dropped us off at the Basilica and we looked up at the 13th/14th century facade of the church that we can also see out of the window of our apartment. In the other direction was a spectacular view over the city.

The church was founded in the 11th century on the spot Saint Minius, an early Christian Martyr, is said to have walked to with his head after he was decapitated in the city. The church has an interesting mix of building styles, having been constructed in many phases over hundreds of years and serving a variety of purposes.

We were lucky enough to be there during a mass when the monks' chanting filled the church.

After this we wandered down to Piazzale Michelangelo, where there is a bronze copy of Michelangelo's David, to see the view over the city and wait for sunset. We bought ourselves a couple of Panini for a picnic and sat in the shade watching the little dramas of other people's lives play out while the sun went down.

Of course the view is spectacular and, given it takes several hours for the summer sun to set and the sky become dark, we took many (many) photos.

After sunset we wandered down the hill towards home (easier down than up!). We passed a couple of bars with music playing and stopped at one of them by the Arno River for a drink.

On our continued journey home we heard an orchestra playing and, when we went looking, found a live outdoor performance near Ponte Vecchio where the locals play soccer during the day. We stayed and watched for a while, leaning over the wall with a crowd of locals and tourists, before finally heading home feeling very happy with our lives here in Florence.

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