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One of Florence’s true architectural treasures is San Mineato al Monte, a Romanesque church on the top of a hill just up from the Piazzale Michelangelo. After breakfast, we packed up our art supplies and made the sweaty hike up a large set of stairs followed by a short hill climb. The church is part of a monastic complex and the Olivetan monks who reside here make unguents, elixirs and beeswax candles which are sold in a little store.

We began our visit with the church itself, an 11th century structure famous for it’s beautiful facade of pietra serena and white marble. Inside, interesting features include a mosaic in the apse, reminiscent of Byzantine antecedents and the tomb for the Cardinal of Portugal, embellished with roundels by the della Robbia workshop.

We then visited the cemetery which includes the spectrum from modest grave markers to enormous and elaborate family tombs.

Each student was provided with a piece of paper to begin drawing a panorama of the Florentine skyline — the vista from San Mineato is breathtaking.

This ended our week. Because of a Sunday field trip, students have Friday and Saturday to travel as they please. Destinations include Milano, Pisa and Viareggio.

Buon weekend!

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