The Abbey of San Caprasio in Aulla has very old origins: it was founded by Adalberto I, Margrave of Tuscany, in 884 inside a castle. Initially dedicated to the Virgin Mary, in 1077, it was definitively dedicated to St. Caprasius, a hermit from Provence, whose remains, according to legend, are conserved in Aulla.
Entrusted to Benedictine monks, tied to the Malaspina family, San Caprasio was at the centre of struggles between them and the Bishop-Counts of Luni and reached its maximum influence between the end of the 12th century and the beginning of the 13th century.
The church is also among those with the most traces of the greatest period of the Via Francigena, as it was one of the main stops along the Italian stretch of this route, where even Sigeric, Archbishop of Canterbury, stayed between 990 and 994 on his way to Rome.
In recent years, archeological digs inside the church brought to light the monumental tomb of the saint, dating to the 10th century and containing an immensely rare reliquary in plaster, protected by slabs of marble and topped by a tuff cover. The ruins of the church’s apses from the 8th and 9 centuries have also been discovered.
Restorations have recovered and highlighted a large chapter house, a portion of a cloister and two other rooms where the abbey’s museum is currently located, which showcases a display that illustrates life within the abbey, the story of St. Caprasius and pilgrimage along the Francigena.