The city of Asciano is on high ground in the upper Ombrone valley, on the old Via Lauretana.
The village (200m, pop. 6340) is on high ground in the upper Ombrone valley, on the old Via Lauretana. Having Etruscan and Roman origin, the village was purchased by the Sienese in 1285 and surrounded by walls in 1351.It still preserves its medieval character despite the town-planning schemes of the fascist period and extensive building after the Second World War.
The Romanesque collegiate church od Sant' Agata (11th cent.)in travertine, is its most outstanding architectural feature. Adorned with decorative elements of the Lombard type and flanked by a 13th century crenellated campanile, it has an aisleless nave with a truss roof.Adjoining it is the Museo d'Arte Sacra where works by painters of the Sienese school of the 14th and 15th centuries are exhibited.
The Museo archeologico contains finds from the excavation of a group of chamber tombs in the nearby cementary of Poggio Pinci. In 1991 a museum devoted to the artist Amos Cassioli was founded as the result of a gift from his family. How to reach Asciano: From Siena (25 Km) take direction Taverne D' Arbia - Asciano. From Arezzo, follow direction Siena, at Rapolano Terme follow the indications for Asciano.
Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
After Murlo, join the Via Cassia at Buonconvento again and take the turning off for the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. The eight-kilometre climb up to the abbey passes through countryside which is ever more typical of the Sienese Crete area.
The abbey complex itself is to be found alone on a high outcrop surrounded by cypress trees. It was a young Sienese nobleman, Bernardo Tolomei, who sought the solitude of this hitherto deserted place in the beginning of the 13th century and founded an order of Benedictines. In time the abbey became one of the most important in Italy and today it is the mother house of all the Olivetan Benedictines.
The abbey church was built in the 15th century and contains some notable frescoes by Luca Signorelli and by Sodoma depicting the Life of Saint Benedict.