Thursday, November 4, 2010

San Miniato al Monte

San Miniato al Monte

After many cool and rainy days, today we were blessed with sunny skies and 70 degree (22C) weather. I decided to head to the hills again to make the most of a beautiful day. I'm getting to know the bus system, and always make sure to carry several bus tickets on me, just in case. Today I decided to visit San Miniato, the church on the hill above Piazzale Michelangelo. I'd seen it once before, in 2006, but hadn't made my way back there since. The other day I rode the bus to the Piazzale and enjoyed the tree-lined winding street along the bus route. The fall colors were dazzling, and the image of the trees has been "calling" me all week to return and explore the area more.

I walked up to Piazza Beccaria and took the Number 13 bus to the Piazzale, enjoying the view along way, an easy 10-minute ride. Not sure where the stop for San Miniato was, I went further than the Piazzale bus stop, then walked back along the tree-lined path until I saw the sign for the church. There were two paths ahead of me: a paved street or old stone steps leading up to a forest. Beckoned by the green vision ahead of me, I chose the old stone steps, and climbed my way up to a dense wooded area. I couldn't see San Miniato, but I was entranced by the trees, so continued walking through the forest.

To my right, I could see olive trees down the hill, and I could hear birds singing. I'd found a quiet space to enjoy the day, away from the city. There were a few people along the forest path: a woman doing yoga asanas, a man walking his dog, another man by himself. But we all seemed reverent, as if we were in a sacred space, with tall fir trees offering a serene presence.

The forest wound around a medieval wall that surrounds San Miniato and il Cimitero delle Porte Sante, a large cemetery. A steep staircase leads up the hill to the church, which has a commanding presence, with its Byzantine facade.

After the serene beauty of the forest, the church seemed dark and cold, so I didn't spend much time inside. But I hope to return some week for Sunday Mass that is accompanied by Gregorian chant.

Inside San Miniato

The view of the city from this height was spectacular.

Now that I know the way, I feel certain I'll return to this quiet green space again and again, away from the crowds and the city, where I feel restored by the serenity of the wise old trees.

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