|Basilica of San Miniato al Monte|
This is the Basilica of San Mineato al Monte. Legend has it that Saint Mineas was the first christian martyr in Florence, where he was beheaded for his faith. According to the miraculous story, he picked up his head, placed it again on his neck and climbed back to his hermitage in a cave above the city. This Mount of the Cross, as it is now called, became the chosen site for a basilica to house the bones of sainted Mineas.
|Gregorian Chant at Evening Vespers|
The crypt from 1063 contains seven aisles and more than thirty-five columns. When Taddeo Gaddi was commissioned in the 14th Century to decorate the interior of the crypt, he covered all the columns in gold leaf. None of that work remains today. However, it is still a beautiful space, reverent in both structure and atmosphere.
|Crypts in the Floor of the Nave|
I have had many clients on my small group tours of Tuscany complain, "Not another bloody church!" Even those who come so skeptical cannot help but be moved by the beauty and the sense of history, as the textured voices of monks fill the crypt, rise to the nave above and echo against the mosaic of Christ over the main altar.
|1000-Year-Old Floor Reflects Summer Evening Light|
|Candlelight in the Crypt of San Miniato|
Mark Gordon Smith is a tour guide and travel author who has written three books about Italy. He speaks Italian, French, German and English. Learn about his small group tours at http://www.private-italy.com.