Tucked into the enchanting hills of Chianti is an ancient Benedictine Abbey, la Badia a Passignano. Surrounded by a sacred and spiritual atmosphere, the abbey reflects the presence of Florence and the strong influence of the Medici, who summoned famous artists to decorate the complex. The monks residing at the abbey promoted scientific research through vine growing, which is still one of the main activities in Chianti. A tour of the abbey is followed (or preceded in the case of afternoon visits) by a visit to a winery for a wine tasting.
The tour starts at the parking lot of La Badia a Passignano abbey, which is located between Florence and Siena. Your guide will lead you through this unique place that dates back to the year 395, plus its well kept Italian garden. La Badia a Passignano is the result of huge architectural and decorative changes dating back to the Renaissance, reflecting the strong presence of Florence throughout Tuscan countryside.
Everything here is typically Florentine Renaissance art, strongly supported and personally realized by the Medici. The first Medici projects were by Lorenzo the Magnificent in the cloister, the wooden choir, in the extension of the monastery to promote the novitiate, and in the summons of famous artists to decorate the complex. Later, Cosimo I de Medici commissioned additional paintings in the late Renaissance.
At the end of the 1800s, the monastery was transformed into a neo-Gothic castle and private residence. The contrast of two different architectural styles is notable in Chianti, and of strong historical interest. Friends of Florence, a non-profit foundation established in 1998 in the United States, supported the completion of the refectory’s restoration of the abbey. Of particular importance in the restoration was the refined Last Supper, frescoed by Domenico Ghirlandaio (1476-77). The restoration of the fresco having now been completed, your guide can show you this true masterpiece.
After the tour of the abbey, which lasts approximately 1 hour, you will have spare time for lunch and at 02.00pm you will reach a winery where you will have the opportunity to taste some famous Chianti wine. The story behind Chianti is best told by those who were born with a passion for wine, who have been making wine for years - those for whom every vintage is a new beginning, having their roots in the past but looking towards the future. The drive to the winery, located about 30 minutes from the Abbey, will take you through the marvelous landscape of the Chianti hills. The the visit to the winery (including wine tasting) takes from 1-1.5 hours.
Note that transportation is not included, these visits are specifically designed for travelers on a self-drive holiday, or you can rent a private car with a driver which will take you to each tour location. In case of afternoon trips, you will first visit a winery at 02.00pm and then you need to drive to the abbey for a guided tour.