The Abbey of Sant'Antimo (ca 5')
The original foundation of the Abbey of Sant'Antimo dates back to 352, when Sant'Antimo of Arezzo (the worship of relics) died and on the place of his martyrdom a small oratory was built (no source). In the same place there was a Roman villa, proven by the numerous Roman remains as the bass-relief with the cornucopia on the north side of the bell tower or some of the columns in the Carolingian crypt.
The incision "Venite et bibite" suggests the presence of a well with therapeutic characteristics. In 715 the church was guarded by a priest from the diocese of Chiusi.
In 770 the Lombards (Longobardi) commissioned the abbot Tao from Pistoia to begin constructions of a Benedictine monastery and he was also entrusted with the management of state property in the area. The abbeys were used as a shelter by pilgrims on their way to Rome, merchants, soldiers and the King's messengers.
The apse of the Carolingian chapel, at present the sacristy of the church. Charlemagne, on returning from Rome in 781, folloed the road created by the Lombards, later called "Francigena" or "road originated by the Franks", and when came to St. Antimo he put his seal on the foundation of the monastery. However, the foundation of Sant'Antimo by Charlemagne is considered (almost certainly) pure medieval legend.
On December 29, 814 a document of Ludovico “IL PIO”, son and successor of Charle magne, enriched the Abbey with gifts and donation. The Abbey becomes in effect, the the imperial abbey.
With the Carolingian influence, the community begins its period of apogee. The abbot of Sant'Antimo was given the title of Count Palatine (Count and adviser to the Holy Roman Empire). The examination of imperial papers, including that of Henry III from 1051, and papal documents show that numerous churches either belonged to or was under the jurisdiction of the Abbey: 96 castles, lands, farms and mills, 85 monasteries, churches, parishes and hospitals from Grosseto to Pistoia passing Siena and Florence.
The main possession of the community was the castle of Montalcino, where the prior lived in a residence now incorporated within the walls of the fortress.
Siena - UNESCO World Heritage - ca 45'
Siena had its heyday between 1150 and 1300 and these wonderful buildings all date back to this period: the Cathedral, the town hall and the Mangia Tower. The many museums (Museum Opera del Duomo, The Santa Maria della Scala, The Civic Museum, The Art Gallery) all present a wide collection of wonderful works of art.
Asciano – ca 30'
with its Museum of Archaeology and Sacred Art: from precious artifacts from Etruscan tombs to paintings and wooden sculptures made by leading Sienese artists from the fourteenth to the sixteenth century.
Certosa di Pontignano (ca 50')
Beautiful monastery founded in 1343, which today accomodate the Congress Centre of the University of Studies of Siena.
Montalcino – ca 5'
With its imposing Fortress, the charm of the medieval village remains intact. Montalcino is part of the natural park of Val d'Orcia and is famous for its Brunello. Nearby you will find the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, exceptional example of Romanesque architecture.
Monteoliveto – ca 20'
The beautiful Benedictine Abbey Monte Oliveto Maggiore with its beautiful frescoes.
Montepulciano – ca 35'
Small Etruscan village, that had its period of greatest growth in the XIII - XVI, and many of its monuments and works of art date back to this period. It is famous for being the birthplace of Angelo Ambrogini, also known as Poliziano, and for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano.
Pienza - UNESCO World Heritage Site, ca 20'
The city was constructed from request by Pope Pius II. Constructions began in 1459 on a project of Rossellino (architect) and was finished in just four years, is the quintessential Renaissance town.
San Gimignano - Unesco World Heritage ca 55'
Small Etruscan village from the Hellenistic period III - II sec. B.C. San Gimignano experienced an extraordinary increase of monuments and works of art in the Middle Ages thanks to the Via Francigena passing through and is today famous for its many towers.
Volterra – ca. 70'
Volterra, defined by Gabriele d'Annunzio "The City of Wind and Stone", was founded by the Etruscans in the eighth century B. C. The city is famous for its 7 km of stone walls surrounding the village and for its alabaster.
San Galgano(60' ca.)