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Places of worship

Hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago

The centuries-old monastery is located in Monteriggioni, on the via Francigena

Map for 43.363014,11.218378

In Monteriggioni, along a stretch of the via Francigena, amidst a forest of oak trees in the village of Santa Colomba, sits the Hermitage of San Leonardo al Lago, as it was called in historic documents because of the lake in the area that dried up in the 18thcentury. The first confirmed mentions regarding a community of hermits date to 1112, but its existence seems to date an earlier period, in the 12thcentury.

In 1239, the hermitage passed to the Augustinians, and, following a papal bull in 1250, it was merged with the more famous community nearby, San Salvatore di Lecceto. The remnants of a defense wall and two towers, one round and one squared, are evidence that in 1366, the hermitage was fortified to host local residents from Santa Colomba during a period of war.

The presence of important, local religious figures, including the Blessed Agostino Novello, who spent the last years of his life here, dying in 1309, contributed to transforming San Leonardo into a pilgrimage destination.

The monastery thus experienced a period of great prosperity: the primitive, Romanesque church was enlarged and the new Gothic, single-nave church was built, divided into three bays, with a rectangular apse.

Between 1360 and 1370, the choir was entirely frescoed by the Sienese painter Lippo Vanni, with three cycles dedicated to the Virgin Mary. In the space on the ground floor, originally meant to be the refectory, another splendid fresco decorates the walls: the Crucifixion (1445), attributed to Giovanni di Paolo, painted during his early period.

Perched on a gentle hilltop, the 14 towers lead us into the past
Monteriggioni, whose stone halo shines from the top of a hill, is one of the most memorable towns in all of Italy. The town stands illusion-like to travellers wishing to dive into the Middle Ages and its beauty is such that Monteriggioni has played the leading role in films as well as in an episode of the popular videogame Assassin’s Creed. ...