The Gem of San Miniato
At Escape Artists, we pride ourselves on finding the most enchanting corners of Italy; localities off the beaten path that people may not come across otherwise. San Miniato, nestled in the province of Pisa within the heart of Tuscany, fits the bill entirely. This medieval town immediately charms you and transports you into a fantastic world of historic Italy, and one to which I cannot wait to return.
After a wintry 3 hour drive from Bologna, my fellow Italian travel experts and I were ready to get off the road. In typical Italian style, we ascended a narrow and curvaceous road up to the sleepy town of San Miniato right before dusk. I was instantly struck by the look of our hotel, boasting an inviting and homey feel while still exhibiting the style of a medieval borgo. Hotel San Miniato easily earned the hotel of the trip for me. This boutique hotel offers 22 rooms and 5 suites, private on-site spa treatments, an historic chapel on the 2nd floor which has been transformed into an event room, breakfast and bar, and a beautiful outdoor patio. Even though it’s rated as a 3 star superior, it rivals some of the most luxurious Italian 5 stars in which I’ve stayed. Another added bonus, it’s owned and run by the Nannetti family, some of the most gracious and lovely hosts I’ve had to pleasure of encountering on my travels!
All of my fellow travelers assured the others that they indeed had the best room, but thankfully they were all wrong, because that privilege was mine. Perched atop the hotel in the only room on the top floor, I luxuriated in my chambers, the Suite of Federico II, named for the main historical figure of this town due to his abundant expansions and fortifications in the 12th century. And what a room! It came equipped with panoramic views of the Tuscan countryside, a lush bed with an affluence of pillows, a semi startling portrait of Federico II and his falcon, and a jacuzzi tub. Yes, a jacuzzi tub. The moment I laid eyes on my suite, I hazily recall jumping up and down, giggling like a schoolgirl who’s just been asked to prom by the QB.
I hardly had a chance to brag abut my good fortune on Facebook before it was time to leave for dinner. Proceeded by a lovely nighttime stroll through this quaint city, we had an unforgettable meal at Enoteca Osteria L’Upupa prepared by Roberto and his wife Maria Grazia. A delicious and hearty dinner, laced with bruschette, paste, and THE best tripe I’ve ever had, we had somehow found ourselves at the beginning of white truffle season, which made itself known with a decadent Tagliolini al Tartufo Bianco. The savory meal culminated with a classic Tuscan dessert, a little vin santo and biscotti! At this point, my grin was eternal.
The next day, our fabulous tour guide Vincenzo of Pisatour led us on an historical tour of the town and gave us something that never happens, an hour of free time. The amount of history in this village is unexpected judging by it’s diminutive size, but absolutely fascinating nonetheless. We visited some controversial chapels, walked up to the imposing Torre di Federico II, and found the chance to visit the local farmers market, only held on the 3rd Sunday of each month, all while snapping pictures like madmen.
San Miniato has proven itself as an unlikely star in the acclaimed region of Tuscany. My limited time there has only inspired a thirst to return and get to know my new friends better and consume as many white truffles as is physically possible. And it’s always good to know Federico’s got his eye on you.