Near the lovely city of Montaione in Valdelsa there is the Holy Mount of San Vivaldo.
The Legend of San Vivaldo
The site dates back to 1220 when there was a church guarded by the Friars of the Cross of Normandy. During the 14th century the hermit Vivaldo established there, after a life of luxury and waste. There he built a shelter inside a huge Chestnut tree, where he lived for the rest of his life and where he died at the age of 60.
Legend has it that after his death suddenly the chestnut tree disappeared because of the frenzy of the devotees coming from everywhere to take a piece of the holy tree.
The Tuscan Jerusalem
What distinguishes San Vivaldo from other religious places in Tuscany, is the fact that the building is made up of several chapels scattered around in the woods. The reason is that Fra’ Tommaso, Florentine Friar from the order of Friars Minor, decided to recreate there the Holy Land.
The chapels represent the holy places around Jerusalem symbolizing a mystical pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Soon San Vivaldo became a religious point of interest where pilgrims came from all around the places. Pope Leone X recognizing the place as a holy place valid for pilgrimages and indulgence. During 19th century it was abandoned.
There are several artworks such as the stunning terraccotta inside the chapel called “Rising the Calvary”. For more information I recommend you read the full story by Trip in Tuscany, that I thank for the nice pictures!