Skip to content

The Convent of Bosco ai Frati

Places of worship

The old monastery in San Piero a Sieve rebuilt by Michelozzo

The Bosco ai Frati Convent is located in Lucignano, a hamlet in the municipality of San Piero a Sieve, surrounded by a forest (bosco) of turkey oaks, from which the complex takes its name. Previously a monastery for Basilian monks in the 11th century, it was almost completely rebuilt by Michelozzo in 1420 on the commission of Cosimo de’ Medici the Elder, who owned the nearby villas of Cafaggiolo and Trebbio.

Just as with the Medici villas, the architect blended the new Renaissance style with his experience of traditional medieval architecture while working on the complex: he used ribs, vaults and frames with clear late-Gothic influence when building the choir, while in the cloister, dining hall and the monks’ cells, he worked more in line with the models of the new emerging architectural styles that could be seen in civic contexts.

A porch with thick columns was built on the façade, while the interior (with a single nave) bears the mark of Michelozzo, with the ribs on the vault being covered in pietra serena and the enlarged choir boasting grandiose polygonal forms, in front of which is an imposing 17th-century reredos in engraved, gilded wood and depicting the Medici's coat of arms.

Crucifix by Donatello
Crucifix by Donatello - Credit: C. D'Aliasi

A chapter house can be reached through the cloister, home to a small Museum of Sacred Art, which preserves the dramatic wooden Crucifix from 1460 that was discovered in 1950 and attributed by many to Donatello or his workshop.

The cloister connects Michelozzo’s refectory with the vegetable garden, over which look the cells where the monks once lived.