Abbadia San Salvatore is an Italian town of about 6000 inhabitants in the province of Siena in Tuscany.
Surrounded by green woods, Abbadia San Salvatore is undoubtedly one of the most amazing villages on Monte Amiata. It is a place with a truly unique appeal with its ancient traditions, time seems to have stopped here.
The splendid Abbey of San Salvatore was founded in 750 by the Lombard king Ratchis. According to legend he had seen the Trinity appear to him on a silver fir. It is a suggestive story still around today in the seventeenth-century frescoes of Francesco Nasini. The crypt leaves the visitor breathless with 32 columns all different from each other. The Abbey has had the Amiatina Bible in its possession for almost a thousand years. The oldest manuscript copy of the sacred text in the world.
Visit Italy’s Heritage
Close to the Abbey, there is the hospital of Santa Maria ad Valetudinarium. It is an ancient medieval structure whose origin seems to date back to 1012 when it was commissioned by the abbot Winizzo. It equips the small village of the castle of Badia with a building to welcome monks, pilgrims, and the sick.
There is a small chapel within the hospital complex. Around the middle of the fifteenth century, the Cistercian monastery stopped taking care of the hospital which soon fell into ruin. It was saved only thanks to the intervention of Pope Pius II, who ordered its renovation in 1462. The structure was thus recovered, and the small church was completely rebuilt in trachyte stone and in Romanesque style. It still retains numerous testimonies on the facade and in the entrance door. Starting from the middle of the 18th century, the hospital and the church were abandoned and converted into houses.
Unearth the Mining Museum
When in Abbadia, a visit to the Mining Museum is a must. In the mine, until 1972 cinnabar was extracted to obtain mercury. Today, it is possible to go down into the bowels of the earth and visit the tunnels. You will be accompanied by a former miner or you can hire a Tuscany travel agent who talks about underground living and working conditions. So that you do not miss any beautiful gems of Tuscany. This is really an unforgettable experience.
The Mining Museum of Abbadia San Salvatore was born from the desire to make known one of the events surrounding the development and evolution of mercury mines. The historical and cultural value of this heritage is high, and tourists should add it to their to-do list when in the area. It is a journey through the stories of people who in the mine have consumed their health, their youth, and their life.
A Touristic Climb To The Cross
The monumental cross of Monte Amiata is a monument located on the summit of the mountain. The monumental cross is 22 meters high, and its construction was following the instructions of Pope Leo XIII. In order to celebrate the Holy Year of 1900, he suggested twenty monuments that celebrated the Redemption. One for each past century including the twentieth which was about to see the light. Mount Amiata was the ninth construction in order of time.
The Tuscan episcopate entrusted the task to Monsignor Bellucci. It is wrought iron by the Sienese workshops of Luciano Zalaffi between 1900 and 1910, reflecting the Belle Époque style, typical of the time.
On September 18, 1910, the inauguration ceremony took place in which a crowd from all the surrounding villages participated. Not far from the top of the mountain, in the municipality of Castel del Piano, in the province of Grosseto, there is also the Madonnina degli Scout. It is a marble monument from 1960 by Father Ugolino Vagnuzzi of the Grosseto Scouts. The statue sits on the highest rock of the peak of the mountain.
Due to its altitude and proximity to Monte Amiata, Abbadia San Salvatore has a cold climate in winter and quite mild in summer. In winter, temperatures often drop below freezing and the geographical area receives rather cold winds. Summers, however, are refreshing thanks to the influence of the mountain with rain and snow at high altitudes. In spring and summer, it is wonderful to walk along the trekking paths of Mount Amiata or go on a bicycle excursion. During autumn the thousand changing colors of the leaves is a wonder of nature. Over winter it is possible to snowshoe to the top, from which it is possible to enjoy an unforgettable view.
Celebrate Local Traditions
In Abbadia San Salvatore, the ancient tradition of the Torches, celebrated around Christmas Eve is a must-see. This tradition has aspects of pagan origin and seems to be older than the town itself. It originated from the villages prior to the abbey. The best-known story of this thousand-year-old festival begins in the period following the foundation of the monastery. For Christmas Eve the inhabitants of the nearby villages gathered around the church. They set fire to piles of wood that burned throughout the night.
This tradition is alive in the streets of the town. Various groups of citizens raise large piles of wood for burning. Torch chiefs and their helpers meet to collect logs and stumps which create the construction of the torch. The inhabitants of the various districts provide them.
On the evening of December 24, in front of the town hall, the “blessing of the fire” of a torch takes place, with this fire the torches of all the torch heads will then light up. Then the procession starts with a musical band that passes by each torch for lighting.
Today, Abbadia San Salvatore is one of the most important tourist centers of Mount Amiata and of Tuscany itself. Over the years, both winter and summer accommodations are available, and various events take place.
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