Badia a Passignano is an imposing religious complex which was founded in the 11th century, at the times of the Longobards invasions in Italy.
It is located in the Chianti territory, in the Pesa Valley, at about 7 km from Montefioralle,
in the nearness of the villages: Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Sambuca and San Donato in Poggio. .
In 1049 San Giovanni Gualberto, founder of the Vallombrosan order, based on the rules of the Benedictine order, commissioned the construction of a Monastery.
During the following centuries the Vallombrosan order obtained the neighbouring castle as well as all its buildings. Therefore, came out a giant and powered religious architectonic complex with the features of a quadrangular citadel encircled by hard and high fortified walls with corner towers.
An amazing avenue surrounded by old cypresses gets into the courtyard where the main buildings of the Abbey are looking out.
Trough and uncovered atrium visitors can access to the Church of S. Michele Arcangelo built on the 13th century and restored in the 16th, 18th and 19th centuries. At the entrance there is a statue of San Giovanni Gualberto by Bastiano Salvini (17th century).
The church preserves its medieval features and the original bell tower.
The interior has a unique Latin cross nave, a semicircular apse crowned with a cupola frescoed by Antonio Fabbrini and Antonio Donati. Its wooden division comes back from the 16th century and was made by Fray Michele Confetto who also engraved the wooden choir with writings in Greek and Hebrew. Under the choir there is a refined holy-water basin from the 15th century.
On the High Altar there is a “Trinity” by Lorenzo Lippi. The magnificent organ comes from the beginning of the 19th century and was made by the Tronci of Pistoia. The Chapel of San Giovanni Gualberto hosts some pretty frescoes and a precious reliquary from the 16th century. The Chapel of the “Ten Blessed Souls” conserves a splendid embellished marble floor. The Chapel of the Baptistery hosts the “Conversion of S. Paul” by Cesare Dandini (17th century). The Sacristy from the 16th century houses a painting of San Giovanni Gualberto by Raffaellino del Garbo (16th century) and a terracotta by Luca Della Robbia.
The ceiling of the Crypt is covered by a cross vaulting supported by four pillars with unadorned capitals.
Opposite to the church there is the entrance way to the Monastery. From the main door visitors can go into a little square which has two towers and a mediaeval look, subsequently to the complex reform effectuated in the 19th century, when the Abbey was converted into a private property.
The Monastery keeps a tower from the 15th century, the Cloister del Mascherone and the Cloister della Meridiana. The indoors hosts a fabulous Library, the Chapter’s Hall, an enormous kitchen and the Refectory which houses a masterpiece by Domenico and Andrea Ghirlandaio, “The Last Supper”, from 1476 and a beautiful terracotta by Santi Buglione from the 16th century.
Along the centuries Badia al Passignano, besides of its religious idiosyncrasy, has been a renowned intellectual centre where every branch of sciences, ancient oriental languages, literature and music were learned and practiced. In 1587-8 the monks invited Galileo Galilei -who had studied in the Abbey - to teach the younger monks.
The Vallombrosian returned to the Abbey in 1986, after 120 years of secularization of the ancient religious site. Nowadays the community is composed of 35-40 members circa.
Close to the walls of Badia di Passignano, there are still standing up some medieval features of the ancient hamlet Borgo di Passignano, like a beautiful tower house from the ending of the 12th century and the charming Chiesa di San Biagio which hosts several frescoes from the 15th century.
Where to eat:
- “Osteria di Passignano”: is an outstanding restaurant with a creative cuisine made from local ingredients. Wine list is excellent. The owners offer also cooking lessons and wine tasting tours in their structures.
Where to sleep :
Hotels and B&B:
Main Towns of Chianti
Badia a Passignano,
Barberino val d' Elsa,
Castellina in Chianti,
Castello di Brolio,
Castello di Gabbiano,
Castello di Meleto,
Colle Val D' Elsa,
Greve in Chianti,
Mercatale Val di Pesa,
Panzano in Chianti,
Radda in Chianti,
Tavernelle Val di Pesa,
Badia a Coltibuono.
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