© Photos: ROBERTO ALBORGHETTI
In Abbadia San Salvatore, on Mount Amiata – Siena country, Tuscany, Italy – there is a magical and capturing place. You find it on the ancient Benedectine abbey. It’s a Crypt where we breath the history and the beauty of one of the most fascinating Tuscany villages. According the documents, the Crypt was built in VIII Century. It was restored in XX Century and now we may admire it in all its beauty.
The Longobard crypt shows 32 columns that form 13 small aisles. They are made in various shapes; some of them are round, with different sculpured ornaments. Also the beautiful capitals are sculptured in various shapes, as palm leaves, loto flowers or animal heads. This Benedectine monastery was founded by Erfo, a Longobard nobleman, in the VIII Century, under King Astolfo, and it was dedicated to the Saviour, which was typical of that people and in the tradition of christian religion. It rose on the east side of Mount Amiata in order to reclaim the surrounding woods and forests. It also overlooked the Via Francigena, running through the Paglia Valley.
The imperial abbey greatly developed in the Carolingian period thanks to Charlemagne‘s and Ludovick‘s confirmation of its landed propertues and privileges, Around the year 1000, under Abbot Winizo, it increased its power by acquiring new territories. The church and the crypt were rebuilt in 1036. In 1228 the monastery passed to the Cistercians. It was suppressed by grand-duke Pietro Leopoldo in 1782 and re-opened later. In the year 1087, a certain Miciarello and his wife Gualdrada made a donation in favour of the monastery of St Saviour. Below the donation document, the notary Ranieri signed three verses, commonly known as “Cartula Amiatina” (“The Amiata Footnote”). This extemporary poem represents to linguists the first voice of vernacular coming from Tuscany. That is, the first expressions recording the evolution of the Italian language.
But this is not the only important document about Amiata History. Till XIX Century, the monastery hosted the famous “Bibbia Amiatina” – “The Amiata Bible” – which is considered the oldest latin version ever known. The Amiata Bible – a true masterpiece, written by amanuensis monks – is now kept in Florence, but we may see a photo-reproduction in the Monastery Museum.