Abbazia di Sant’Antimo (Medieval)
Built of dramatically white travertine and alabaster and standing below green hills, this elegant Romanesque church gained fame when, in 781, Charlemagne placed his seal on the foundation. It became in effect an imperial abbey of the Holy Roman Empire when his son showered it with gifts and privileges. In the new millennium the power of the abbey was enormous, having jurisdiction over almost 200 castles, churches, hospitals, abbeys, mills and large farmhouses.
The abbey is simplicity and power embodied. Without interior decoration, it is a stark wonder. Still a working abbey with monks in long white robes holding daily mass in Gregorian chant, it is a visual and acoustic wonder, that gives us living insight into past monastic life.
Just above the abbey is the hill town of Castelnuovo dell’Abate, little changed for hundreds of years. The two sites together—the views all around are alone worth the visit—give us a good sense of medieval Tuscan times.