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Abbey of San Michele Arcangelo in Passignano

What to see in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, Firenze, Tuscany


The monastery adopted the vallombrosan rule already in the XI century by Giovanni Gualberto, who died here in 1073. The monastic complex appears still enclosed within the curtain wall of the fifteenth century a quadrangular plan with angle towers but are evident the neogothic integrations produced at the end of the nineteenth century when, suppressed the monastic community, was transformed into a villa. The abbey church, a Latin cross plan, was almost entirely rebuilt in the second half of the XVI century and internally frescoed by Passignano and by Alessandro Allori.

The titling at San Michele Arcangelo suggests as an epoch of the foundation the longobard age, having regard to the particular devotion to render homage to the"warrior Angel" on the part of the Germanic people. In April 1121 encamped at the monastery of the army led by Corrado Scheiern of the Marquis of Tuscany that, on that occasion, confirmed to the monks their privileges; probably in the monastery stayed even the emperor Federico Barbarossa whose portrait was painted in a room. The 20 November 1199 Florence imposed to the monks of Passignano the oath not to be warped any conspiracy nor allying themselves with the Pope, nor allying themselves with the emperor. But it was too late, because Passignano was already an ally of the family imperial wire degli Alberti that, against Florence, built a city: Semifonte. The construction of the city also attended, Passignano, realising a church and a hospital. The richness of the monastery in the 16th century brought the monks to design the enlargement of the church of the abbey.

As in previous centuries the political changes of Florence had repercussions at Passignano. As previously mentioned the return to power of the Medici led to the exile of the abbot. Besides the monastery lost importance even the entire Vallombrosan order scaled by the Council of Trent and dallaControriforma, by the new religious orders and from the evangelization of the new lands that led to a reduction of the role of the monks. The Order has also changed the name, becoming once again the Congregation of Santa Maria di Vallombrosa and also the seat that from 1550 was placed in the monastery of San Bartolomeo a Ripoli where he lived the Abbot General and the general curia. To Passignano this was the period in which it is accentuated his monastic aspect becoming the seat of a studentate. It also began an in-depth study of mathematics and of the exact sciences; for the teaching of mathematics was called in 1588 Galileo Galilei, who in his youth had had a monastic experience at Vallombrosa.

On 10 October 1810 the monastery was suppressed by the Napoleonic laws. The monastic life of Passignano was interrupted and was dispersed the entire archival heritage and the entire library. Past Napoleon Bonaparte was the restoration and to the Vallombrosan order were returned to the monastery of Vallombrosa, the Sanctuary of Montenero and the church of Santa Trinita in Florence. Only in 1818 the Vallombrosa managed to regain Passignano and the entire estate; immediately was reconstituted a small community with priests and a few monks talk. The abbot was possible to appoint him only in 1858 when the Community was most numerous. el 1866 with laws Siccardi were suppressed all religious orders and the Italian government became the owner of everything. Assigned in custody to a few monks remained a small part of the monastery and the Church that had functions of the parish for the village. The Badia a Passignano was auctioned and sold on 7 October 1870 al conte Maurizio Dzieduszycki inasmuch as the Italian State did not know what to do. For the monks remained in 1875 was built in place of an old building the canonical current located on the left side of the abbey church. On 10 October 1986 The Vallombrosani monks began again possession of the monastery.

The Abbey Church
an oratory dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel already existed before the thousand but the current church was built starting from 1266, after which the entire monastery was burned from schoolchildren in 1255. The outer facade has a portal surmounted by a lunette in which is painted a fresco of the XIX century Filadelfo Simi portraying the Madonna with Child and Two Angels; above the lunette there is a coat of arms in the stone of the Vallombrosan monks. On the extreme tip of the facade is placed a copy of a statue depicting the Archangel San Michele slaying the dragon dating back to the XII century while the original, attributed to such Arriguccio marmoraio documented at Passignano in 1177, is kept inside the monastery. The interior of the Church, from the iconography is a latin cross typical of churches vallombrosane is characterized by the fence of the monastic choir placed at approximately half of the single nave; at the sides of the entrance of the choir are placed two tables of the XVI century painted by Michele di Ridolfo del Ghirlandaio: the carcass right depicts the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael recognizable for the characteristic symbols while the one on the left depicts the Nativity in which the figure of St Joseph rests on a walking stick in which is painted the coat of arms of the abbot Ungaro, employer of the two works.

You can reach the crypt from a port situated in the left wall of the chapel of San Giovanni Gualberto. The crypt is referable to the primitive church of the XI century. It has divided longitudinally into three naves with cross vaults supported by columns and by brackets arranged to the wall. In the center of the floor is placed a writing that indicates the location of the first burial of San Giovanni Gualberto here remained from 1073 to 1210. The reliquary of St John Gualbert is formed by a bust in chiselled silver embossed and realized in the XV century with halo realized by Paul Sogliani in the Sixteenth Century while the base decorated with a garland of twenty newsstands with pinnacles and cusps presents inside every newsstand scenes depicting the life of the saint, in fine glaze made between 1324 and 1332.

The Monastery
The external appearance of the monastery which is situated beside the church is that of a strong military castle has five corner towers. The internal aspect however reveals that we are in a typical Benedictine abbey. Currently the entry is located in the tower located to the right of the facade of the Church. The tower, the facade to its left up to the church, the internal facade facing the garden and up to the other tower built above the original entrance are all works created after 1870 when the complex, now in the past in private hands, was transformed, on project of the architect Uguccioni of Florence, in a villa-castle in neo-gothic style, in accordance with the fashion of the time. Of the XV century is the monumental entrance doorway to the cloister. This is an opera wooden carved on the outer facade and inlaid on the internal one, framed by an equally monumental fifteenth-century portal made of pietra serena by stonemasons Andrea of blacks and Mariotto da Settignano.

The cloister was finished in 1483 and he was immediately called Filippo Antonio Filippelli to paint the inner walls with the Life of St Benedict, the frescoes represent the life of the saint from the moment he leaves Rome at the moment of death. The frescoes were ruined in 1734 when it was decided to coat them with a whitewashing lime and only at the beginning of the twentieth century were brought to light and restored, but for the scenes placed near the roof had to proceed to a renovation.

  • Strada di Badia, 28, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (Firenze)
  • Religious location

Tavarnelle Val di Pesa

Tavarnelle Val di Pesa

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= distances as the crow flies