Ancient Abbeys of Tuscany: a walk through the Middle Ages

A trip through the mysteries and legends of the Middle Ages, up and down the enchanting Tuscan hills in the territories of Siena and Arezzo. A full itinerary to experience during a weekend or a longer vacation, or enjoy with day-trips to the single places. 

Tuscany is universally known as the cradle of Renaissance, but also before this golden age, the Tuscan territory was dotted with a variety of works of art having  enduring charm and appeal.  The Middle Ages, commonly considered as a dark and arcane age, was in Tuscany rich in beauty all over the region, also thanks to the Romanesque and Gothic architecture.

We’ve taken a walk through the mysteries, legends, faith and stories of this period, by visiting the marvelous abbeys founded in the territories of Arezzo and Siena between the 9th and the 10th century, prospered during the 11th and 12th centuries, fell into a slow but inexorable decline from the end of the 13th century, when the Italian city states started their ascent, and finally restored and brought back to their antique glory during the 20th century.

In the Province of Arezzo, a few kilometers away from Cortona, the Abbey of  Farneta is located in the Valdichiana Valley, has a long and original history and a breathtaking crypt, rich in archaelogical finds dating back to the Roman times. Click here to read the whole post.

Moving towards Valdambra, a nice valley set in the large green hilly space where last Chianti Mountains lick the Upper Valley of Arno River, on the road n. 540 connecting the Valdarno Valley to Siena, it is possible to admire the beautiful abbey of Badia a Ruoti, in the territory of Bucine (province of Arezzo), very potent in the past, when for a long time was the residence of the Bishop of Montepulciano. From May to September the Abbey is open on Saturday and holidays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.,  rest of months on reservation only (at least 1 day before) by calling the following numbers: 055-998021 and 338 5929912 (Camilla), 055 998168  and 339 2447023 (Claudio), 055 9910214 and 340 5436169 (Andrea).

Still on the road 540,  if you prosecute towards Siena and turn right to Badia d’Ombrone, after 800 mt on a white road the wonderful Abbadia a Monastero, in the territory of Castelnuovo Berardenga will show up. The splendid sacred building is surrounded by a green and soft meadow, a perfect backdrop to a picnic lunch (as we did have on Easter Monday).

Badia a Ruoti

Badia a Ruoti


Abbadia a Monastero

Abbadia a Monastero

Taking from Siena the highway to Grosseto and exiting to San Lorenzo a Merse, you can get to San Galgano, the incredible Cistercian Gothic roofless Abbey, where the near Hermitage of Montesiepi keeps a Tuscan version of the legendary Sword in the stone.  Click here to read the whole post dedicated to this magic place. 

Another highly recommended abbey is Monte Oliveto Maggiore, in the magnificent landscape of the Sienese Crete, between the territories of Asciano and Buonconvento, in the province of Siena.  Click here to read the whole post we wrote after our visit.

Last but not least: located near Montalcino, on the road towards the Mount Amiata, the Abbey of San’Antimo is in our opinion the most beautiful of the Tuscan abbeys.  You can click here to read the post we have devoted to this amazing place,  trying to describe the atmosphere that mesmerizes the spirits of both faithful and non-believers, but words are not really able to transmit emotions that must be experienced. Our recommendations: visit it, first of all; try to coordinate your trip with the Gregorian Chants’ schedule (all the details in our post), and go there at the end of your itinerary. This place is so unique that could shade the charm of the other wonderful abbeys, all deserving a visit for a step back into medieval times.

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