A magical and capturing place, where you may breath the history and the beauty of one of the most fascinating Tuscany towns: the San Salvatore Abbey.
If you are in Amiata, you surely can’t miss to visit the San Salvatore Abbey and its evocative underground Crypt that gave birth and name to Abbadia San Salvatore, the biggest town all over the mountain.
According to the legend, the Abbey was founded in 743 by the Lombard King Ratchis, right in the very spot where the Trinity is said to have appeared to him under a white fir tree. It happened over a hunt around the Amiata forest where he decided to stop during his trip to Rome along the Via Francigena. The Lombard king entrusted the new monastery to the Benedictines and the abbey was dedicated to the Saviour, which was typical of people at that time and in the tradition of Christian religion. Later handed over to the Cistercians, the abbey played an important regional role: overlooking the Via Francigena, main road to Rome, it rose on the east side of Mount Amiata in order to reclaim the surrounding woods and forests.
The imperial abbey greatly developed in the Carolingian period thanks to Charlemagne‘s and Ludovick‘s confirmation of its landed properties and privileges all over the mountain and around the year 1000, under Abbot Winizo, it became the most important in Tuscany and was affirmed also as a prestigious spiritual centre.
This period saw the start of the contests between the Amiata religious and the Aldobrandeschi family, and eventually, in 1299, after the abbey had passed from the Benedictine to the Cistercians in 1228, it lost its temporal power. In 1782 it was suppressed by the Grand Duke of Tuscany, only returned to the monks in 1939 and today is again occupied by the Cistercians.
Many important documents and objects where housed in the Abbey. Above all are the rare Scoto-Irish Reliquiry Cascket and the Codex Amiatinus – The Amiata Bible – which is the first latin manuscript version ever known. The Amiata Bible – a real art masterpiece, written by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the museum of the abbey.
Nowadays you can visit the church and the underground crypt and experience its special history through the Francesco Nasini’s sixteenth century frescoes hosted in the same church.
To enrich the visit you suggest to walk around the medieval historic centre ‘Castel di Badia’ that was the first nucleus of Abbadia San Salvatore built around the Abbey in the Middle Ages.