Halfway between Montaione and Castelfalfi is the hamlet of San Vivaldo, where a holy site sits in the woods of the Sacro Monte di San Vivaldo. The Sacro Monte -literally "holy mount"- is known as "Little Jerusalem" where there is an old Franciscan convent and a series of chapels scattered here and there in the woods. The chapels are filled with fine paintings representing scenes of Jesus Christ’s life, with statuary groups (1500-1516) made of polychromatic terracotta, in the tradition of Della Robbia.

This splendid corner of Valdelsa is considered the "Tuscan Jerusalem", as it reproduces the holy sites of that great and ancient city for pilgrims who couldn't travel to the Holy Land. It seems that the area around San Vivaldo had housed dozens of hermit-saints since the 12th century, and maybe even earlier. Nonetheless, this place became a religious landmark only in 1300, by the followers of Beato Vivaldo.

The Sacro Monte di San Vivaldo was built under the direction of Franciscan Fra' Tommaso da Firenze, with the aim to offer the possibility of a pilgrimage in Montaione instead of Jerusalem, which was ever-harder to reach because of the Turkish domination. Pope Leone X, in 1516, gave plenary indulgences to the pilgrims coming to Vivaldo.

Besides the two dozen chapels, the glorious Church of St Vivaldo shows off beautiful glazed terracotta portraying St Caterina and St Vivaldo, and a Renaissance painting representing the “Virgin in glory with St John the Baptist, St Girolamo, St Francis and St Vivaldo”.

The Franciscan convent is annexed to the church, with a quiet cloister and refectory. Close to the vegetable garden, you will find the Chapel della Samaritana, whose terracottas (sold at the beginning of the 20th century in order to renovate the Sacro Monte) are now exhibited into the Cleveland Art Museum in Cleveland, Ohio (USA).

Free entrance; guided visits 3,50€.

HOURS : Summer and Sundays, from April to September, 10 am to 7 pm - guided visits from 5 pm; winter (October-March), from 2.30 pm to 5 pm - guided visits from 3.30 pm.

Weekdays - you can visit the chapels in groups upon request. Tel: +39 057 169 9252. The Sacro Monte is closed from Monday to Saturday.

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Address in Montaione:

Via San Vivaldo.

Ph. +39 057 168 0114 .

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