San Rabano: a medieval jewel in the Natural Park of Maremma

Surraounden by woods of mediterranean forest, hidden between two hills. San Rabano is over there, in the heart of the natural park of Maremma: one of the most important abbeys in Middle Ages. If we look at it from quite a distance, it looks like a white point in the mibble of a green area. Probably this two features are at the origin of the name. The word Rabano, in facts, comes probably from "albarium" meaning white, because of the colour of the local stone with which it is built, or "arbor" meaning tree, because of the vegetation by which it is surrounded.
Indipendently from the origin, we know that its name was very famous because it was the centre of economical adminitration of the territory. The plase where il was built is certenly strategicbecause it is near "Strada della Regina", which allowed the connection between the old Aurelia road and the sea. The area around the abbey was deforested, terraced and managed to be planted with olive trees and vines; probably the cork oack was planted too and a small village got developed nearby. Between XI  and XII century the abbey bacame so important to dominate also very distant territories: for example areas aroun Lacium; it became so rich to need a fortification, probably ultimated around the end of XIII Century.
The nowdays structure is impressive, with strong and thick walls, still standing despite time.
Recent archaeological excavations brought to light a central coutyard with a cistern and some rests of water canalization; a vehicular entrance was also found and a smaller one. In the courtyard there were a hoven nearby Uccellina tower and a circular structure, probably a a sighting towe, considered the oldest building in the area. Moreover archaeologist found a wash-house, a scriptorium ( a place where monks copied documents and books) and a kitchen maybe pertinent to a guest house. A few traces are connected to the small village: some cisterns and some walls of very ruined buildings.
The churc and the belltower were the main and more conservated structures: inside the belltower a stairway is still conserved and it is layed down on arches, supported by columns and pillars; inside the church some rests of the pavement were found: it was complitely made by coloured marbles, and the cover was made by a ribbed vault. This is one of the most ancient examples of this kink of building cover in Tuscany.
When we arrive in San Rabano we can still breathe this magnificence and this Abbey has still many stories and legends and life to tell, despite the appearance of an old dusty woman.


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