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Sanctuary of Monte Senario (Santuario di Monte Senario)
Sanctuary of Monte Senario (Santuario di Monte Senario)

Sanctuary of Monte Senario (Santuario di Monte Senario)

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Via Montesenario, Vaglia, Tuscany, Italy

The Basics

The monastery was founded on September 8, 1233, on the Nativity of the Virgin Mary, by a group of seven noble Florentines who left their comfortable lives to become hermits. The monastery became an important place of pilgrimage in the 15th century. Discover the Sanctuary of Monte Senario independently, or as part of a cycling tour through the Tuscan countryside, pedaling past vineyards, ancient olive groves, and forests of beech trees.

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Things to Know Before You Go

  • The Sanctuary of Monte Senario is suitable for solo travelers, couples, and families.

  • Cycling tours welcome travelers of all skill levels, as the terrain is mostly flat and easy.

  • Bike tours may include a guide, hybrid bike, helmet, wine and olive tastings, lunch and drinks. Check specific tours for details.

  • Plan to visit the two caverns that served as the first quarters of the Seven Holy Founders, located on the grounds.

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How to Get There

Sanctuary of Monte Senario is located near Vaglia in the Tuscany region, about 12 miles (20 kilometers) from Florence. If driving, expect about a 30-minute drive and available parking at the monastery. For public transportation from Florence, take the train to Vaglia and then a taxi. From the stone gate, walk along the Via Crucis demarcated by ancient tabernacles that note the Stations of the Cross.

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When to Get There

Sanctuary of Monte Senario is open daily, year-round, from morning through the evening, although it's generally closed for three hours starting at midday. To beat the crowds and the high prices of traveling in summer, visit Tuscany in spring or fall when the climate is at its most temperate.

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The Star Attraction

While the monastery's external structure is quite austere, the exuberant 15th-century Church of our Lady of Sorrows is richly decorated in the Baroque style, with deep blue and gold vaulted ceilings, stained glass biforas, and frescoes depicting the life of the Seven Holy Founders. Encircling an ancient wooden crucifix are stucco figures carved by Giovanni Martino Portogalli. End your tour at the Chapel of the Appearance where the Virgin Mary is said to have appeared to the founders.

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