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S. Antimo (Montalcino) 16/02/2011

Posted by florencecapital in Uncategorized.
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c. 1910

This church is practically all that now remains of one of the great Benedictine abbeys of Tuscany. It is situated on the road from Montalcino to the railway station of Monte Amiata on the line between Siena and Grosseto it is about six miles from Montalcino (one or one and a quarter hours to drive). From the Abbey (or its vicinity) to Monte Amiata station it takes about one hour to drive. The road from Montalcino winds downhill, with steep ravines branching off on all sides covered with ilex, oak and olive. It is impossible to drive up to the church; visitors have a walk of perhaps a quarter of an hour. The church stands in a secluded valley shut out by ranges of low hills from the surrounding country. On one of these is the village of Castel Nuovo, the only sign of contact with the outer world.  In mediaeval times the Abbey was the significant part of the place; the buildings are detached from the town, and are entered by a gateway. It was not until the thirteenth century that any communal liberty was granted to the town, which is entered by another gateway. The streets are solidly built of stone, without plaster or paint. The ways are narrow; there is no emphasis of form or colour. The dark weather-beaten houses suggest the life of a community long used to a common lot of poverty. The people no longer suffer in that way; quicksilver mines have been opened on the mountain about a mile above the town, and the broad road leading up to them is busy all day with workers coming and going, with the wives and children who carry meals to the men. A walk of an hour through the chestnut forest leads to a small chapel known as the Ermita.