Fodor's Expert Review Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore

Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

Tuscany's most-visited abbey sits in an oasis of olive and cypress trees amid the harsh landscape of Le Crete. It was founded in 1313 by Giovanni Tolomei, a rich Sienese lawyer who, after miraculously regaining his sight, changed his name to Bernardo in homage to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernardo then founded a monastic order dedicated to the restoration of Benedictine principles. The name of the order—the White Benedictines—refers to a vision that Bernardo had in which Christ, Mary, and his own mother were all clad in white. The monks are also referred to as Olivetans (the name of the hill where the monastery was built). In the abbey's main cloister, frescoes by Luca Signorelli and Sodoma depict scenes from the life of St. Benedict. Signorelli began the cycle by painting scenes from the saint's adult life as narrated by St. Gregory the Great; though these nine scenes are badly worn, the individual expressions pack some punch. Later Sodoma completed scenes from the saint's youth... READ MORE

Tuscany's most-visited abbey sits in an oasis of olive and cypress trees amid the harsh landscape of Le Crete. It was founded in 1313 by Giovanni Tolomei, a rich Sienese lawyer who, after miraculously regaining his sight, changed his name to Bernardo in homage to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. Bernardo then founded a monastic order dedicated to the restoration of Benedictine principles. The name of the order—the White Benedictines—refers to a vision that Bernardo had in which Christ, Mary, and his own mother were all clad in white. The monks are also referred to as Olivetans (the name of the hill where the monastery was built). In the abbey's main cloister, frescoes by Luca Signorelli and Sodoma depict scenes from the life of St. Benedict. Signorelli began the cycle by painting scenes from the saint's adult life as narrated by St. Gregory the Great; though these nine scenes are badly worn, the individual expressions pack some punch. Later Sodoma completed scenes from the saint's youth and the last years of his life. Note the detailed landscapes, the rich costumes, and the animals (similar to those Sodoma was known to keep as pets).

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Religious Building/Site/Shrine Fodor's Choice

Quick Facts

Località Monteoliveto Maggiore 1
Asciano, Tuscany  53041, Italy

0577-707611

www.monteolivetomaggiore.it

Sight Details:
Rate Includes: By donation

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