Wednesday 2 December 2015

Badia a Passignano, the abbey (abbazia) of San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano

One of the most photogenic and interesting structures in Chianti is the Abbey of Passignano, officially the Abbazia di San Michele a Passignano. I should say at the outset that it's not that easy to visit the interior of the monastery because there are very few monks there, often only two, and they have more than enough work to occupy their time. Nevertheless, during 2015, the ten year restoration of the refectory was completed and it is now possible to see the splendid "Last Supper" there, a fresco by Ghirlandaio which very likely influenced Leonardo's conception of the same subject. If you don't have a chance to go within the walls, there are nevertheless many vantage points to both the east and the west of the Badia for spectacular photography.

Abbey of Passignano near Tavarnelle in Chianti, Tuscany
Abbazia di Passignano

This ancient foundation passed several decades in private hands during which time it was much altered externally in the taste of Victorian times - fake crenellations and all the rest of it. However, the interior contains many ancient and beautiful features including the Ghirlandaio fresco. As a garden nut, I was much taken by the fine giardino all'italiana hidden behind the monastic walls. The abbey is definitely worth a visit if you can arrange it. The nearest towns are Sambuca and Greve in Chianti.

Italianate garden of the Badia a Passignano in Chianti, Tuscany
Italianate garden of the Badia a Passignano in Chianti, Tuscany

Note that the extensive cellars have been leased out to Antinori whose enormous vineyards cover many of the surrounding hills. A visit to the wine cellars is an activity entirely separate from a visit to the monastery proper. To visit the cellars and/or to do a wine tasting, contact Antinori.

To find out when the monastery is open, try phoning the tourist information office at Tavarnelle Val di Pesa  Tel. 055 8077832

More about the Badia a Passignano.

More about the gardens of Tuscany.

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Author: Anna Maria Baldini

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