If you are fascinated by history, religion and legend, once you are in Tuscany you can’t miss the Saint Cassian abbey, which is located between the two small towns of Greve and Figline.
It is a very old monastery named by the patron saint of writers and teachers, who is celebrated in Italy August 13th.
Built around 1040-1050 by the Buondelmonti monks, the abbey was part of a bigger complex of 7 abbeys founded by Saint John Gualbert, who belonged to the Vallombrosan Order.
At the beginning, the original oratory, made with stone, was just a place where pilgrims could stop by while travelling. Then, thanks to the donations noble and very healthy families did, the place was turned into a real monastery, giving the chance to have hospices where monks could help poor people.
Growing that much, the place underwent not only extention, as it is obvious, but also renovation during the following centuries. In 1775, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Peter Leopold, ordered to demolish it. Part of the monastery was destroyed, as well as part of the surrounding lands, and the rest was sold.
Nowadays people are only abe to admire what’s left of this abbey, such as Saint John Gualbert’s incense burner (one of the most important elements there), some paitinings by Nicodemo Ferrucci (the visitors’ favorite one is the Samaritan at the Well), and a piece of a crucifix made by an artist named Bernardo di Stefano Rosselli.
About 15-20 years after the demolition, the place luckily got a second chance. Someone called Montescalari was in charge of renovate what’s left of the monastery, which reamained a property of the Rosselli del Turco family for several years.
Due to the fasctinating place it became and the forests all around, the Italian writer Marco Vinchi decided that his novel Morte a Firenze (Death in Florence, in English) had to take place there.