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ASCIANO, a town of Tuscany, in the province of Siena, 19 m.
S.E. of the town of Siena by rail. Pop. (1901) 7618. It is
surrounded by walls built by the Sienese in 1351, and has some
14th-century churches with paintings of the same period. Six
miles to the south is the large BenedictINE34533-h.htm'>Benedictine monastery of Monte
Oliveto Maggiore, founded in 1320, famous for the frescoes by
Luca Signorelli (1497-1498) and Antonio Bazzi, called Sodoma
(1505), in the cloister, illustrating scenes from the legend of St
Benedict; the latter master’s work is perhaps nowhere better
represented than here. The church contains fine inlaid choir
stalls by Fra Giovanni da Verona. The buildings, which are
mostly of red brick, are conspicuous against the gray clayey and
sandy soil. The monastery is described by Aeneas Sylvius
Piccolomini (Pope Pius II.) in his Commentaria. Remains of
Roman baths, with a fine mosaic pavement, were found within
the town in 1898 (G. Pellegrini in Notizie degli scavi, 1899, 6).
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