Architecture blends with nature
by Marco Gemelli, ph. Archivio Antinori
The ancient beauty of the green heart of Chianti Classico, seems almost unreal. Looking carefully at the perfect harmony with which the 15th century stone walls blend with the landscape, it can just about be said that the hamlet of Badia a Passignano was painted by hands inspired by the Muses. Instead, that miniature ancient world revolving around the old monastery founded by the Archivescovado of Florence – once one of the most powerful in Val di Pesa – is real. Its existence has been historically documented starting from the 11th to the 12th century, although the hill it rises upon was certainly already the seat of a fortress in the Lombard period. Heart of the hamlet is the abbey of San Michele Arcangelo, surrounded by vineyards, cypress trees and the houses of the hamlet: it still has its quadrilateral plan with corner towers notwithstanding its conversion to a residential building. At the end of the 19th century, there had been some neo-gothic additions making it more similar to a castle now than a spiritual building. It’s been slightly over thirty years, since 1986, that the abbey is once again property of the Vallombrosian monks. Known both for the beauty of its monastery and for a series of rather important buildings, as well as for the restaurant bearing the same name and boasting a Michelin star, Badia di Passignano is also interesting from a scenic point of view because all around it there are typical elements of the Chianti area, from hills covered with rows of vines to cultivated fields, from olive groves to woods, not to mention the grapes. It’s by no chance then that since 2008 the area has been certified as a protected natural area, thanks to the biodiversity of the flora and fauna and to the possibility of excursions covering two ring paths which start from and return to Badia di Passignano. Let’s not forget to mention the wine seeing that it’s since 1987 that all the vineyards surrounding the Badia have belonged to the Antinori family who produce the Chianti Classico Riserva “Badia a Passignano”. The wine’s refinement takes place in the ancient cellars beneath the monastery which the very same family uses holding about 2,000 barriques: the vaulted ceilings and the walls keep the humidity and temperature constant all the year round, creating the perfect environment for the maturing of the wine. On the other hand, from a culinary point of view, L’Osteria di Passignano – which will be twenty years in 2020 – will celebrate its bond with La Badia with a charity dinner for the completion of the restoration works of the monastic complex and the fresco by Ghirlandaio held within, that “Last Supper” painted in 1476.