News of a Benedictine abbey at this site dates from the 9th century, but the settlement was probably two centuries earlier. Until the 14th century the abbey had possessions in the whole of Italy, but later declined due to impoverishment of the neighbouring area and the presence of malaria. It played an important role in the culture of Italy thanks to the work of its scribe monks. In this abbey Guido d'Arezzo invented the modern musical notation. In the 19th century the abbey was acquired by the Italian government.
The church, dedicated to Saint Mary, is from the 7th-9th century, being later enlarged; the interior, consisting of a nave and two aisles, contains a good mosaic pavement, and interesting frescoes by Vitale da Bologna; and there are also paintings in the refectory by a Riminese master. The chapter hall has early 14th-century frescoes by a pupil of Giotto.
The bell tower (1063), standing at 48 m, is one of the finest belltowers from the Romanesque period. Notable is also the Palazzo della Ragione.
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