Badia a Ruoti
The hamlet of Badia a Ruoti is located just a short distance from Ambra. In the course of the centuries the village developed around the imposing abbey,dedicated to St. Peter, dating back to the 10th century AD. The abbey, nowadays completely restored, for over 400 years belonged to the Montepulciano diocese. Within its church's walls hosts an exquisite altarpiece painted by the artist Neri di Bicci in 1472.
Badia a Ruoti is a typical hamlet of the Tuscan inland, that developed around the imposing abbey devoted to St. Peter, still overlooking the village.
The abbey can be accessed through a door nicknamed "Torricella” that still displays the openings from which the heavy iron portcullis was lowered as well as the mechanisms that were used to close its doors.
Past the entrance's arch, on the left side, two rooms once served as posterns.
Moreover, legend has it that there exist an underground passageway – no longer entirely practicable – that led inside the abbey.
Alike castles, abbeys too had to be able to resist to sieges and starvation, thus was compulsory to have escape and supply routes unknown to the assailants. It is not unlikely, then, that there is more than a secret passage leading either way - from and to - the abbey. Inside the fortified area, it is possible to see an ancient oven with the inscription “1800” carved in its stone, while all around the structure, once ran a passageway not too far from the abbey, to hamper the perils of sieges and invasions and that, as of today, has been abandoned and replaced by more comfortable access ways.
Within the building, the ancient abbey's farm can be visited. In its caves there are preserved the old wooden casks and can be seen the "pits" that once were used to retrieve grain and other cereal. The abbey's church – relatively bald, in line with the Benedictine rule – features traces of frescoes believed to date back to the 14th century.
The most important element of decoration is that of a wheel with eight spokes, that scholars speculate it has to be put in relation with the name of the abbey and its founder. It is interesting to note that the same decoration is featured at Camaldoli.
The frescoes – or, at least what has come to our days – depict St. Mark and St. Catherine of Alexandria, while the altarpiece, painted by Neri di Bicci in 1472, represents the Coronation of the Virgin.
Nowadays the abbey, completely restored to its ancient splendour, is used for accommodation and for recreational and leisure activities.