The Crete Senesi refers to an area of the Italian region of Tuscany to the south of Siena. It consists of a range of hills and woods among villages and includes the comuni of Asciano, Monteroni d'Arbia, Rapolano Terme and San Giovanni d'Asso, all within the province of Siena. Crete senesi are ‘Senese clays’, the distinctive grey colouration of the soil gives the landscape an appearance described as lunar; this characteristic clay, known as mattaione, represents the sediments of the Pliocene sea which covered the area between 2.5 and 4.5 million years ago. Nearby is the semi-arid area known as the Accona Desert; the most notable edifice of this area is the monastery of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. The region is known for its production of white truffles, hosts a festival and a museum dedicated to the rare fungus. official Crete Senesi website Terre di Siena: Crete Senesi Videos of the Crete Senesi Crete Senesi Landscape
Trequanda is a comune in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 70 kilometres southeast of Florence and about 30 kilometres southeast of Siena. Trequanda borders the following municipalities: Asciano, Rapolano Terme, San Giovanni d'Asso and Torrita di Siena and consists of the following villages: Trequanda and Petroio; the parish church, in Gothic-Romanesque style, was built from 1327, renovated in Renaissance style. It houses an Ascension attributed to Il Sodoma and a terracotta of "Madonna with Child" attributed to Andrea Sansovino; the high altar is by Giovanni di Paolo
Agatha of Sicily
Saint Agatha of Sicily is a Christian saint. Her memorial is on 5 February. Agatha was born at Catania or Palermo and she was martyred in 251, she is one of seven women, along with the Blessed Virgin Mary, are commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass. She is the patron saint of Catania, Malta, San Marino, Zamarramala, a municipality of the Province of Segovia in Spain, she is the patron saint of breast cancer patients, wet nurses, bell-founders, fire and eruptions of Mount Etna. Agatha is buried at the Badia di Sant ` Catania, she is listed in the late 6th-century Martyrologium Hieronymianum associated with Jerome, the Synaxarion, the calendar of the church of Carthage, ca. 530. Agatha appears in one of the carmina of Venantius Fortunatus. Two early churches were dedicated to her in Rome, notably the Church of Sant'Agata dei Goti in Via Mazzarino, a titular church with apse mosaics of ca. 460 and traces of a fresco cycle, overpainted by Gismondo Cerrini in 1630. In the 6th century AD, the church was adapted to Arianism, hence its name "Saint Agatha of Goths", reconsecrated by Gregory the Great, who confirmed her traditional sainthood.
Agatha is depicted in the mosaics of Sant'Apollinare Nuovo in Ravenna, where she appears, richly dressed, in the procession of female martyrs along the north wall. Her image forms an initial I in the Sacramentary of Gellone, which dates from the end of the 8th century. One of the most venerated virgin martyrs of Christian antiquity, Agatha was put to death during the persecution of Decius in Catania, for her determined profession of faith, her written legend comprises "straightforward accounts of interrogation, torture and triumph which constitute some of the earliest hagiographic literature", are reflected in recensions, the earliest surviving one being an illustrated late 10th-century passio bound into a composite volume in the Bibliothèque nationale de France, originating in Autun, Burgundy. According to the 13th-century Golden Legend by Jacobus de Voragine, fifteen-year-old Agatha, from a rich and noble family, made a vow of virginity and rejected the amorous advances of the low-born Roman prefect Quintianus, who thought he could force her to turn away from her vow and force her to marry.
His persistent proposals were spurned by Agatha, so Quintianus, knowing she was a Christian during the persecution of Decius, had her arrested and brought before the judge. He was the judge, he expected her to give in to his demands when she was faced with torture and possible death, but she reaffirmed her belief in God by praying: "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil." With tears falling from her eyes, she prayed for courage. To force her to change her mind, Quintianus sent Agatha to Aphrodisia, the keeper of a brothel, had her imprisoned there. Agatha never lost her confidence in God though she suffered a month of rape and efforts to get her to abandon her vow to God and go against her virtue. Quintianus sent for her again, argued and had her put in prison and had her tortured, she was stretched on a rack to be torn with iron hooks, burned with torches, whipped. Amongst the tortures she underwent was the cutting off of her breasts with pincers.
After further dramatic confrontations with Quintianus, represented in a sequence of dialogues in her passio that document her fortitude and steadfast devotion, Saint Agatha was sentenced to be burnt at the stake, but an earthquake saved her from that fate. Saint Agatha died in prison in the year 251 according to the Legenda Aurea. Although the martyrdom of Saint Agatha is authenticated, her veneration as a saint had spread beyond her native place in antiquity, there is no reliable information concerning the details of her death. Osbern Bokenham, A Legend of Holy Women, written in the 1440s, offers some further detail. Catania Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Agatha. According to Maltese tradition, during the persecution of Roman Emperor Decius, together with some of her friends, fled from Sicily, took refuge in Malta; some historians believe that her stay on the island was rather short, she spent her days in a rock hewn crypt at Rabat and teaching the Christian Faith to children. After some time, Agatha returned to Sicily.
Agatha was arrested and brought before Quintanus, praetor of Catania, who condemned her to torture and imprisonment. The crypt of St. Agatha is an underground basilica, which from early ages was venerated by the Maltese. At the time of St. Agatha's stay, the crypt was a small natural cave which on, during the 4th or 5th century, was enlarged and embellished. After the Reformation era, Agatha was retained in the calendar of the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer with her feast on 5 February. Several Church of England parish churches are dedicated to her. Saint Agatha is the patron saint of rape victims, breast cancer patients, wet nurses, bellfounders, she is considered to be a powerful intercessor when people suffer from fires. Her feast day is celebrated on February 5, she is a patron saint of Malta, where in 1551 her intercession through a reported apparition to a Benedictine nun is said to have saved Malta from Turkish invasion. She is the patron saint of Catani
Sinalunga is a town and comune in the province of Siena, in the Tuscany region of central Italy. Aside from scanty prehistoric findings, the oldest historical remains date from the 8th century BC, when Sinalunga was an Etruscan settlement under the control of Chiusi, with some temple at the top of the hill where Sinalunga lies; the current town grew up around the medieval castle called Castello delle Ripe, attracting people on the hill after the Etruscan land reclamation works in the area were abandoned. Asinalonga is mentioned for the first time in the 8th century; the town was under the Cacciaconti family, who became subjects of the commune of Siena in 1197. Palazzo Pretorio, built between 1337 and 1346, it was the centre of the civil power in the town, as attested by the podestà and Medici crests on its facade. Collegiata di San Martino, built from 1568 over the ancient castle; the interior, on the Latin cross, has works by Benvenuto di Giovanni, Il Sodoma and Rutilio Manetti Church of Santa Lucia, now used as auditorium.
Church of Santa Croce. It houses the Wedding of the Virgin by Luca Signorelli. Church of San Pietro ad Mensulas, built in the 4th century on a pre-existing Roman edifice the main station on the Via Cassia. Church of Santa Maria delle Nevi Church and Convent of San Bernardino Aÿ-Champagne, France
Monteroni d'Arbia is a comune in the Province of Siena in the Italian region Tuscany, located about 60 kilometres south of Florence and about 13 kilometres southeast of Siena in the area known as the Crete Senesi. It takes its names from a tributary of the Ombrone River; the pieve of Saint John the Baptist, at Corsano, dates from before 1031. With a nave and two aisles, it is an example of Romanesque architecture with Pisan and Lombard influences, it houses two canvasses by Alessandro Casolari. The church of Saints James and Christopher, at Cuna, has remains of 14th-century frescoes. Cesare Maccari, lived in the hamlet of Quinciano Official website
The Etruscan civilization is the modern name given to a powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding to Tuscany, south of the Arno river, western Umbria and central Lazio, with offshoots to the north in the Po Valley, in the current Emilia-Romagna, south-eastern Lombardy and southern Veneto, to the south, in some areas of Campania. As distinguished by its unique language, this civilization endured from before the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions until its assimilation into the Roman Republic, beginning in the late 4th century BC with the Roman–Etruscan Wars. Culture, identifiably Etruscan developed in Italy after about 900 BC with the Iron Age Villanovan culture, regarded as the oldest phase of Etruscan civilization; the latter gave way in the 7th century BCE to a culture, influenced by Ancient Greek culture, during the Archaic and the Hellenistic period. At its maximum extent, during the foundational period of Rome and the Roman Kingdom, Etruscan civilization flourished in three confederacies of cities: of Etruria, of the Po Valley with the eastern Alps, of Campania.
The league in northern Italy is mentioned in Livy. The decline was gradual, but by 500 BCE the political destiny of Italy had passed out of Etruscan hands; the last Etruscan cities were formally absorbed by Rome around 100 BCE. Although the Etruscans developed a system of writing, the Etruscan language remains only understood, only a handful of texts of any length survive, making modern understanding of their society and culture dependent on much and disapproving Roman and Greek sources. Politics was based on the small city and the family unit. In their heyday, the Etruscan elite grew rich through trade with the Celtic world to the north and the Greeks to the south and filled their large family tombs with imported luxuries. Archaic Greece had a huge influence on their art and architecture, Greek mythology was evidently familiar to them; the Etruscans called themselves Rasenna, syncopated to Rasna or Raśna, while the ancient Romans referred to the Etruscans as the Tuscī or Etruscī. Their Roman name is the origin of the terms "Toscana", which refers to their heartland, "Etruria", which can refer to their wider region.
In Attic Greek, the Etruscans were known as Tyrrhenians, from which the Romans derived the names Tyrrhēnī, Tyrrhēnia, Mare Tyrrhēnum, prompting some to associate them with the Teresh. The origins of the Etruscans are lost in prehistory, although Greek historians as early as the 5th century BC associated the Tyrrhenians with Pelasgians, which could both be broad descriptive terms. Strabo and the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus make mention of the Tyrrhenians as pirates. Thucydides and Strabo all denote Lemnos as settled by Pelasgians, whom Thucydides identifies as "belonging to the Tyrrhenians". Although both Strabo and Herodotus agree that Tyrrhenus / Tyrsenos, son of Atys, king of Lydia, led the migration, Strabo specifies that it was the Pelasgians of Lemnos and Imbros who followed Tyrrhenus to the Italian Peninsula. A link between Lemnos and the Tyrrhenians was further manifested by the discovery of the Lemnos Stele, whose inscriptions were written in a language which shows strong structural resemblances to the language of the Etruscans.
This has led to the suggestion of a "Tyrrhenian language group" comprising Etruscan and the Raetic spoken in the Alps. Hellanicus of Lesbos records a Pelasgian migration from Thessaly to the Italian peninsula, noting that "the Pelasgi made themselves masters of some of the lands belonging to the Umbri". By contrast, Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a Greek writer living in Rome, dismisses many of the ancient theories of the other Greek historians and postulates that the Etruscans were indigenous people who had always lived in Etruria. For this reason, therefore, I am persuaded that the Pelasgians are a different people from the Tyrrhenians, and I do not believe, that the Tyrrhenians were a colony of the Lydians. For they neither worship the same gods as the Lydians nor make use of similar laws or institutions, but in these respects they differ more from the Lydians than from the Pelasgians. Indeed, those come nearest to the truth who declare that the nation migrated from nowhere else, but was native to the country, since it is found to be a ancient nation and to agree with no other either in its language or in its manner of living.
Furthermore, Dionysius of Halicarnassus is the first ancient writer who reports the endonym of the Etruscans: Rasenna. The Romans, give them other names: from the country they once inhabited, named Etruria, they call them Etruscans, from their knowledge of the ceremonies relating to divine worship, in which they excel others, they now call them, rather inaccurately, but with the same accuracy as the Greeks, they called them Thyoscoï, their own name for themselves, however, is the same as that of one of Rasenna. Livy in his Ab Urbe Condita Libri says the Rhaetians were Etruscans driven into the mountains by the invading Gauls, asserts that the inhabitants of Raetia were of Etruscan origin; the Alpine tribes have no doubt, the same origin the Raetians.
Territorial Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is a large Benedictine monastery in the Italian region of Tuscany, 10 km south of Asciano. Its buildings, which are of red brick, are conspicuous against the grey clayey and sandy soil—the Crete senesi which give this area of Tuscany its name, it is a territorial abbey whose abbot functions as the bishop of the land within the abbey's possession though he is not consecrated as a bishop. It is the mother-house of the Olivetans and the monastery took the name of Monte Oliveto Maggiore to distinguish it from successive foundations at Florence, San Gimignano and elsewhere, it was founded in 1313 by a jurist from a prominent aristocratic family of Siena. In 1319 or 1320 it was approved by Bishop Guido Tarlati as Monte Oliveto, with reference to the Mount of Olives and in honour of Christ’s Passion; the monastery was begun in 1320, the new congregation being approved by Pope Clement VI in 1344. The abbey was for centuries one of the main land possessors in the Siena region.
On January 18, 1765, the monastery was made the seat of the Territorial Abbacy of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Territorial Abbots of Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbot Diego Gualtiero Rosa O. S. B Abbot Michelangelo Riccardo M. Tiribilli, O. S. B. Abbot Maurizio Benvenuto Maria Contorni, O. S. B. Abbot Divo Angelo Maria Sabatini, O. S. B. Abbot Pietro Romualdo M. Zilianti, O. S. B. Abbot Luigi Maria Perego, O. S. B. Abbot Mauro M. Parodi, O. S. B. Abbot Ildebrando Polliuti, O. S. B; the monastery is accessed through a drawbridge which leads to a medieval palace in red brickwork, surmounted by a massive quadrangular tower with barbicans and merlons. This edifice was begun in 1393 as the fortified gate of the complex. Over the entrance arch is a terracotta depicting Madonna with Child and Two Angels attributed to the Della Robbia family, as well as the St Benedict Blessing nearby. After the entrance structure is a long alley with cypresses, sided by the botanical garden of the old pharmacy a cistern from 1533. At the alley's end is the bell tower, in Romanesque-Gothic style, the apse of the church, which has a Gothic façade.
The Chiostro Grande has a rectangular plan and was realized between 1426 and 1443. On the oldest side it has a two-storey loggia and a pit, dating to 1439; the frescoes of the Life of St. Benedict painted by Luca Signorelli and il Sodoma, located in the cloister lunettes under the vaults, are considered masterworks of the Italian Renaissance; the frescoes disposition follows St. Gregory's account of Benedict's life. Signorelli's paintings were executed in 1497-98, while Sodoma's were completed after 1505; the church entrance is preceded, in the Chiostro Grande, by frescoes of Jesus Carrying the Cross, Jesus at the Column and St. Benedict Giving the Rule to the Founders of Monte Oliveto, all the work of Sodoma; the church's atrium is on the site of a previous church, showing on the walls frescoes with Father Hermits in the Desert and St Benedict's miracle, both by an unknown Sienese artists. In a niche is the "Madonna with Child Enthroned" by Fra Giovanni da Verona; the church takes the form of Latin cross.
It was renovated in the Baroque style in 1772 by Giovanni Antinori. The main attraction is the wooden inlaid choir by Giovanni da Verona, executed in 1503-1505, it is one of the most outstanding examples of tarsia in Europe. The church houses a canvas by Jacopo Ligozzi, behind the high altar, a 14th-century polychrome wooden Crucifix, in the Sacrament Chapel; the sacristy has an inlaid ceiling dating to 1417. Che Chiostro di Mezzo was built in the 15th century, surrounded by a portico with octagonal pilasters. Artworks include a 15th-century Madonna with Angels and Annunciation by Riccio. Nearby is the entrance to the refectory, decorated by frescoes by Fra Paolo Novelli and, in the end wall, a canvas of the Last Supper by Lino Dinetto; the stairs leading to the first floor are decorated by Sodoma's fresco depicting the Coronation of Mary and one by an unknown artist of the Deposition. Antonio Muller executed in 1631 a Characters and Events of the Olivetani, while by Giovanni da Verona is a wooden candelabrum.
The latter artist was author of the library, which has a basilica plan with a nave and two aisles divided by columns with Corinthian capitals. Nearby is the Monastic Library, housing some 40,000 volumes and incunabula. From the library is the access to the Pharmacy, housing, in 17th century vases, a collection of medicinal herbs; the name Definitorio refers to the Capitular Hall, on whose end wall is a fresco of Madonna with Child and Saints by Matteo Ripanda. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed.. "Monte Oliveto Maggiore". Encyclopædia Britannica. Cambridge University Press. Official website The Monte Oliveto Maggiore Museum Adrian Fletcher’s Paradoxplace – Monte Oliveto Maggiore Photos and History Page GCatholic.org Catholic Hierarchy Abbey Website