This ravishing church clearly reveals the influence of the Romanesque architectural style, in particular the Cistercian order. It lies in the valley beneath Castelnuovo dell’Abate. Admission to the church is free (open 10.30am-12.30pm, 3-6.30pm Mon-Sat; 9-10.30am, 3-6pm Sun). In the morning or evening the church is illuminated magnificently by the sun or moon creating an especially magical setting.
It is said that the monastery was established by Charlemagne in the 8th century. In the following centuries feudal power concentrated in the Benedictines’ hands and they exerted their influence in southern Tuscany until their interests and Siena’s were at stake in the 1200s and a power struggle was begun. Restoration of the abbey was carried out at the end of the last century and the monks took over its management after centuries of neglect. Nowadays, services are held here including mass and the monks enchant visitors with Gregorian chants.
Its exterior walls are a pale travertine stone and skilfully decorated with fantasy animals sculpted on the walls of the bell tower and apsidal chapels. Inside the nave capitals are truly remarkable. The Madonna and Child dating back to the 13th century and the Christ on the Cross painted in the 12th century and hung above the main altar are worth noticing.
The abbey is also a venue for the Estate Musicale Chigiana ‘s concerts.