Two Thousand years of history of ancient Town
San Miniato has a 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 in Antonini. The finds excavated there are kept in the Archaeological Museum in Florence and a smaller number in the Museo Civico (Municipal Museum).
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 al Tedesco. 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 hospitals. 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 her honour. 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 Franciscan convent.
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 founded.
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.