At its height around the time of Charlemagne, the Farfa Abbey controlled 132 castles, 16 fortresses, 7 ports, 8 mines, a large merchant ship that was completely tax exempt by Imperial decree, 14 villages, 82 mills, and 315 hamlets.
While always closely tied to the Vatican, it was at the same time the Holy See’s last line of defense in those turbulent years during the Byzantine era and early medieval days, and remained separate from and independent of Rome. In those days it was said that the popes stood in the shadow of Farfa’s head abbots.
Needless to say what Farfa wanted Farfa got, and while so much of the Abbey reflects that and is note worthy (more notes soon), one specific example is the abbey’s Cosmatesque floor, all the rage in central Italy during the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately, only a small section of the original marble work remains (pesky Saracens!), but the intricacy of this small surviving section drives home how astonishing the entire floor of the church must have been in its heyday.