San Miniato (previously called San Miniato al Tedesco) is a town and municipality in the province of Pisa, Tuscany. The town center rises in a historically strategic location over a hill alongside the Arno river at half way distance between Pisa and Florence; the town, until the final conquest by Florence, was the scenery of many battles between the two cities.
Abode of diocese, San Miniato is now an important economic and industrial center for leather and a famous site for white truffles.
The original nucleus of the city dates back to the VII century: according to an original document
dated 713 and stored in Lucca´s Archbishop Archive, a group of Lombards settled on this hill and built a church dedicated to the martyr Miniato.
Frederick II of Sweden erected then the fortress of the city which became the headquarter of his vicar in Tuscany. For this Germanic origin, the city was called San Miniato al Tedesco throughout all the middle ages, name which has been used also in the following centuries. In 1622, Frederick II obtained the bishop pulpit and therefore the diocese: in fact, until that time, it has belonged to the Lucca diocese.
The young Napoleon went to San Miniato twice. The first time it was in order to obtain the nobility title for his family, title which was necessary to access to the French Military Academy. At a later time, he went there again during the Italian Campaign to visit his uncle Filippo Buonaparte. A commemorative plaque posted in the Buonaparte Palace proves this event.
The city remained under Florence´s jurisdiction until 1925, when it has passed, not without controversy, to Pisa province. San Miniato´s dialect belongs in fact to Florence area´s linguistic domain.
The second world war left a mark on the city due to the Cathedral´s massacre. A consistent part of the medieval constructions was destroyed, among which Frederick II´s fortress which was then rebuilt in the following years.
The main event held in the municipality is the National Market Fair of White Truffle in San Miniato hills, which takes place every year in the main squares and streets of the city during the second, third and fourth weekends of November.
Other events connected to the precious tuber are: Corazzano´s Truffle Fair which this city hosts every year during the first Sunday of October; Balconevisi´s Truffle and Mushroom Festival on the third Sunday of October every year and Cigoli´s Marzuolo Truffle Festiva in March.
San Miniato is also the place where the most ancient Prose Festival of Italy takes place: the Theatre Festival. Managed by San Miniato Popular Drama Institute Foundation, directed by Salvatore Ciulla and leaded by Stefano Petrucci, the festival is active without interruption since 1947. All the biggest actors and directors have joined it in all these years (Orazio Costa, Aldo Trionfo, Giorgio Strelheer, Franco Enriquez and Luigi Squarzina among the directors; Paolo Giuranna, Elena Zareschi, Roberto Erliska, Massimo Foschi, Carlo Pani, Paola Gasman, Elisabetta Pozzi among the actors and Eliot, Bono and Woitila among the authors). The festival is held every year in July.
Other events worthy to visit are the Puppets Theatre International Festival "La luna è azzurra" every year at the end of June and, at the end of July, the historic Theatre Festival with a popular drama performance of a religious topic held in the cathedral square.
Every year in July the concerts of the event "Un castello di suoni" take place in San Miniato and other towns of the municipality, an important festival of classical music which, since many years, brings to San Miniato worldwide famous musicians, enhancing at the same time many emerging young artists. During the event, also a grand opera is proposed to the public every year.
In the night of the 23rd July the "San John Fires" (Fuochi di San Giovanni) are organized in Frederick II fortress´ grassland, while the first Sunday after Easter, every year, in the same location, the Kite Festival takes place.
Among the religious festivals, the most interesting are the Procession of Madonna della Cintola from SS. Anunziata Chuch (also called Nunziatina Church) to the hills, and San Miniato Holy Crucifix Festival in summertime.