The Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore, marvel between the Crete Senesi
We live in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, surrounded by lovely countryside everywhere we look and, fortunately, not yet ruined by man. We love to give our guests suggestions as to what they should see in this beautiful region and one of the most important sites that should not be missed is the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore.
The Abbey is a 30 minute drive from Villa Poggiano in one of the most beautiful parks of the area. It was built in 1319 and is still the residence of Benedictine monks. Monte Oliveto Maggiore is remarkable due to the marvellous frescoes on the walls around the main cloister. They depict scenes from the life of St. Benedict, some painted by Luca Signorelli, who also painted the entry wall in 1497, while the others were painted by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as “Il Sodoma." Sodoma also painted the other three walls between 1505 and 1508 when Signorelli was called away to paint the Duomo di Orvieto.
The Abbey di Monte Oliveto is also famous for the wooden choir and the library, both built by Fra Giovanni da Verona who worked at the Abbey at the same time as Sodoma. In fact, each affected the other's style, which is why the line of columns in the library resembles the line of columns in one of Sodoma's frescoes. The Abbey was well known for their spices, which they produced until 1865. A large collection of apothecary pots and jars is located in the upper room of the library. It also includes 17th and 18th century majolica tiles from the kilns of San Quirico d’Orcia. Visitors to the Abbazia di Monte Oliveto are very often captivated by the gregorian chants sung by the monks.
The Abbey is open to visitors during the Mass and other prayer services. The monks also have a small shop where they sell wine, honey, olive oil and a digestive herbal liqueur, all of their own production. A visit to this special place is not to missed.