The Abbey of Passignano, probably founded in the Longobard period, was one of the first to accept the monastic reform of Vallombrosa conceived by Saint Giovanni Gualberto in the first half of the 11th century. The abbey always enjoyed a privileged place in the Vallombrosan order and, thanks to generous donations, controlled wide parts of the Chianti area as well as many ecclesiastical buildings, hospitals and shelters for pilgrims and the poor.
After the historical vicissitudes that frequently kept the monastic community away from Passignano, the Vallombrosan monks were able to regain possession of the abbey only in 1986 .
In the church of San Michele Arcangelo, the main chapel was frescoed by Domenico Cresti, known as “Passignano”, in 1601. On the ceiling appears the Eternal Father in Glory, and a striking image of musical angels sitting on the balustrade. Equally interesting are the canvases painted by Passignano. In the chapel dedicated to Saint Giovanni Gualberto, we find a series of pictures by Giovanni Maria Butteri and Alessandro Pieroni portraying the life of the Saint, along with Alessandro Allori’s fresh, vivacious frescoes depicting episodes from the life of the Saint. In the transept is the simple tombstone of Saint Giovanni Gualberto.
At first sight the vast architectural complex next to the church, with its crenellated walls and five towers, presents the aspect of a medieval castle. From the main doorway we enter a small square. The refectory, the kitchen and the chapter rooms are open to visitors. Outside the walls of the monastery is the little village of Borgo di Passignano, with a 12th-century tower-house and the church of San Biagio.