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 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).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)