The vallombrosana abbey of San Lorenzo a Coltibuono was founded around year thousands, it lived its maximum moment of glory between the 11th and the 12th century: but already in the successive century it began the decline.
Even if in 15th century it had an ulterior development under the patronage of Lorenzo de’Medici. The Abbey remained property of the vallombrosani Benedictines monks until 1810. In 1810, under the napoleonic rule, the monks were obligates to leave Badia a Coltibuono, and the structure was transformed in villa – farm.
The Abbey church is Romanesque in shape and has the typical Vallombrosan architectural scheme. Latin cross plan with semicircular apse and dome on the top of the cross, protected externally by a quadrangle lantern with an unusual pagoda profile. The nave preserves the false eighteenth-century vault, while the barrel vaults of the arms of the transept are original. On the left side there is the massive crenellated bell tower, whose construction was started in 1160. Inside the church shows a fresco decoration, canvases and stuccoes of late Baroque taste.
Interesting is the Italian garden with flowerbeds geometrically arranged formed by box hedges and aromatic and medicinal plants. At the center of the garden is a rectangular sandstone tank. The great forests of fir trees, surrounding the abbey, are the result of reforestation of the monks. Next to the Abbey you can admire a cedar of Lebanon by imposing size (20 meters high and about 7 meters in diameter of the circumference of the trunk), which falls in the list of monumental plants of the Region of Tuscany.
In order to reach the Abbey, from Florence, take the Autostrada A1, direction Roma. Exit the motorway at Valdarno and take the SS408, direction Siena. After about sixteen Kms you come to the turn-off for Badia a Coltibuono (about a one hour drive from Florence). From Siena, take the SS408, direction Gaiole in Chianti / Montevarchi. After the village of Gaiole the turn-off for Badia a Coltibuono is a futher 6 Km on the left (about a 45 minutes drive from Siena).
Guided visits: the monastery of Coltibuono opens in the afternoons from May to October. Every day, guided visits of the cloisters, ancient ageing cellars and renaissance gardens are organised from 2 pm until 5pm. Visits are every hour on the hour, no reservation is necessary. Cost: 5.- euro per person. Duration of visit: 45 minutes ( English and Italian).
Tours with a tasting: Visits with tasting are organised on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 11:00 am on appointment only from May to October. Cost 12.- euro per person max. 20 people. Duration: 1hr30 mins.
- AA. VV. “Toscana” Guide Rosse Touring Club Italiano, 2007
- cur. Pagliai L. “Regesto di Coltibuono” 2008, Polistampa