Abbadia San Salvatore lies on the edge of extensive chestnut woods covering the eastern side of Monte Amiata and is one of the oldest monasteries in Tuscany. In the mediaeval period, it was an important station on the Via Francigena, the pilgrim route from northern Europe to Rome. The picturesque medieval borgo or village round the monastery has one of the best preserved mediaeval centres of Tuscany. It preserves its outer walls and streets intact, with medieval and Renaissance houses of locai grey stone. Abbadia San Salvatore is the largest town of Mount Amiata, surrounded by nature trails of extraordinary beauty and the thermal centres of Bagni San Filippo and Bagno Vignoni.
From an urban point of view three are the areas that characterize the village. The historic centre develops around the Abbey which was at a later stage surrounded by the medieval hamlet. Between the XIX and the XX century the new part of the village was built which includes the mining area and extends down the steep flanks of the mountain.
The historic and social events of the village are closely linked to the existence of the Abbey of San Salvatore, religious centre that played a fundamental role in the christianization of the mountain.
The Benedettine abbey, which was immensely rich and powerful, was founded in 743 by the Lombard king, Ratchis, on the spot where he saw a vision. A short time after its foundation it became the most important abbey of Tuscany. At the peak of its temporal and spiritual powers in 1035 the abbey was rebuilt and reconsecrated by Abbot Winizzo. There followed a period of decline when it carne under the dominion of Siena in 1347, and evenlually was incorporateci into the Medici state in 1559. In the 16th century the single interior nave, a characteristic Latin cross, was whole modernized.
Not to be missed is the visit to the crypt which is built on a Latin cross floor plan and has 13 small naves outlined by 36 columns all different from each other with capitals characterized by Romanesque sculptures.
The monastery was suppressed by grand-duke Leopoldo II in 1783, and most of its treasury and archives were removed to Florence. A Benedictine community was reinstalled here in 1939.
We reach the medieval hamlet through the Porta Castello also known as Porta della Badia, so called because it linked the medieval hamlet to the abbey. Other attractions in the town include the medieval borough, the Palazzo della Potesta (15th century) and the church of Santa Croce.
Among the churches outside the village walls that are worth mentioning is the Madonna dei Remedi (17th century) where since the high middle ages a tabernacle with a painted madonna is considered to be miraculous.
On the road leading to the mountain instead, we find the church of the Madonna del Castagno (16th century) built in place of a votive chapel dedicated to the Madonna.
Outside the village, surrounded by chestnut trees, is the small oratory of the Chiesa dell'Ermeta which houses a carved wooden crucifix regularly worshipped by the local people.
Abbadia San Salvatore prides a famous traditional festival, coming back for a thousand years, Fiaccole della Notte di Natale.
Weekly market on the 2nd and 4th thursday of the month.
Chiesa della Madonna del Castagno
Codex Amiatinus, f 796v, pred 716, Maiestas