On the road from Florence to Siena and along the beautiful Tuscan hillside, the small town of Badia a Passignano secludes itself. It was founded in 1049 by San Giovanni Gualberto who also founded the Vallombrosano Order. Although the town has undergone numerous adaptations over the centuries, many historic reminders of the majestic monastic period remain intact. The town’s square layout with towers at each corner contributes to the overall fortress feel while the serene atmosphere and beauty of its architecture is a reminder of its religious functions.
The abbacy has been enriched throughout the years with numerous architectural additions. It is still possible to admire the parochial church of San Biagio which is decorated with fifteenth century frescoes, and the thirteenth century church dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel along with its bell tower. This church, which is located within the monastic walls, has a Latin cross layout, with only one nave. In addition the single nave, the Church’s simple columns demonstrate Romanic influence.
The interior of the church was decorated half way through the sixteenth century with Hebrew and Greek inscriptions which shows the emphasis on education within the Abbacy.
In 1886, the complex was transformed into a farm. It is now inhabited by a small community of Vallombrosian monks. They open their doors to visitors on Sunday afternoons by reservation. A guided tour will allow you to discover the simple life of the monks by visiting the refectory, the kitchen, and the splendid cloister.
Last but not least visitors will find a pleasant surprise during their stay in the town as they wonder beneath the Abbacy to discover wine canneries. The consistent temperature and perfect humidity creates the ideal environment for storing wine. In fact, beneath this small town is where the best annual wines of Italy are stored.
Getting There: CAR: the Badia a Passignano is assessable from the highway that connects Firenze and Siena. Just 5 kms off the Tavernelle exist. Train: Firenze SMN to Poggibonsi. Buses are available to Badia a Passignano.
Events: Month of May- Religious Musical concerts Summer School – lessons on various religions.