FLORENCE TRAVEL COST

he approach to the abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is through thick cypresses, with stunning views of eroded cliffs and sheer drops to the valley floor. It was founded in 1313 by the Olivetan order, who were dedicated to restoring the simplicity of Benedictine monastic rule. The 15th-century rose-pink abbey church is a Baroque building with outstanding choir stalls of inlaid wood. Alongside is the Great Cloister (1427-74), whose walls are covered by a cycle of frescoes on the life of St Benedict, begun by Luca Signorelli, a pupil of Piero della Francesca, in 1495. He completed nine panels; the remaining 27 were finished by Sodoma in 1508. The cycle, which begins on the east wall with Benedict’s early life, is considered a masterpiece of fresco painting for its combination of architectural and naturalistic detail. The Romanesque Basilica di Sant’Agata in Asciano TOSCANY AREA BY AREA Star Sights Collegiata Piazza del Duomo Palazzo del Popolo Suggested route La Buca, Via San Giovanni, selling local wine and wild boar ham Collegiata This 11th-century church is covered in delightful frescoes, including The Ornitoiogico Creation (1367) by Bartolo di Fredi. Museo d’Arte Sacra e Museo Etrusco The museum contains precious Etruscan and religious works of art. Street-by-Street: San Gimignano o To Sant’Agostino The distinctive skyline of San Gimignano must have been a welcome sight to the faithful in medieval times, for the town lay on the main pilgrim route from northern Europe to Rome.


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