Monte Oliveto – Tuscan abbey

A wonderful abbey in the Crete Sinesi area not far from Buonconvento near Montalcino is Monte Oliveto. A working Abbey it is full of amazing Frescoes of the life of Saint Benedict.
The entrance to the grounds of the abbey. The Abbey of Monte Oliveto (Mount of Olives) Maggiore is a large Benedictine monastery about 30 minutes north east of Montalcino.  Over the entrance arch is a terracotta depicting Madonna with child and two angels attributed to the Della Robbia family, as well as the St. Benedict Blessing nearby.
Saint Benedict blessing all arrivals from the other side of the entrance. The abbey was built in the 14th century and is perched on the crest of a hill. It opened in 1320
Walking down toward the abbey from the entrance. It is surrounded by extensive lands which are used for agriculture and viticulture.
At the end of the descent is the bell tower, in Romanesque – Gothic style, and the apse of the church, which has a Gothic façade.
On entering the abbey you come to the Chiostro Grande (“Great Cloister”). It is designed on a rectangular plan and was realized between 1426 and 1443.  Under the vaults of the cloister are frescoes of the Life of St. Benedict painted by Luca Signorelli and Il Sodoma, considered amongst the most important Renaissance artworks in Italy.
The frescoes disposition follows St. Gregory’s account of Benedict’s life. Signorelli’s paintings were executed in 1497-98, while Sodoma’s date to 1505 afterwards.
As a working abbey it has the neccessities of life. Here is the dining room ready for lunch
The ceiling of the dining room with amazing frescoes
For washing hands at the entrance to the dining room.
Amazing frescoes on the wall of the dining room.
The library, which has a basilica plan with a nave and two aisles divided by columns with Corinthian capitals (1518). Nearby is the Monastic Library, housing some 40,000 volumes. From the library is the access to the Pharmacy, housing, in 17th century vases, a collection of medicinal herbs.
A monk preparing the tables for lunch
The grand square inside the abbey
Inside the church adjoining the abbey
One of the many alters of the church
From the Abbey leading down into the wine cellars
Fine wine maturing in large oak barrels
Monte Oliveto is a must see in Southern Tuscany. It is in amazing condition.
Alan e Carolyna

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