The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore/Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
For our last day in Tuscany we wanted to visit a historic winery, but with so many choices, didn’t know where to start. Our hosts at La Mucchia Casa Vacanze suggested we visit The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore, where we could experience the ancient Benedictine monastery known for their Gregorian Chants, winery, 800-year-old pharmacy and a monastic library with over 40,000 volumes. In the portico, there are 36 amazing frescoes begun in 1497 by Luca Signorelli featuring the life of St Benedict, and finished in 1508 by the artist Il Sodoma. The beautiful Refectory is adorned with frescoes by Fra’ Paolo Novelli.
As we left to journey through the Tuscan countryside, low clouds trailed along the hills, shrouding Cortona from view.
The Tuscan scenery is amazing, and we’ll have to return when the sunflowers are in bloom. We visited the first week of October and harvest season for the grapes was in full swing, and the sunflowers were being combined and the fields disced under for winter.
You then walk down the brick walkway to the monastery buildings. For those that are handicapped or have trouble with uneven surfaces, there is a road that runs parallel to the pathway that leads down also. The cedars tower above and sigh in the wind…
And here are the most amazing frescos of Luca Signorelli and Il Sodoma. There is so much wit and character in the little details – you can stand and look and look and still see things you have overlooked. We didn’t have much time to absorb the paintings or learn much, as we arrived just a little while before they closed. Be sure and give yourself several hours if you really want to appreciate the monastery. I snapped lots of shots to be able to look at them later.
After our quick tour, we went to the pharmacy and gift shop where we purchased a jar of the unguent for arthritis. I was interested to learn that bee sting venom was included in the ointment and it had a very pleasant smell. I’m not sure if it helped Wally’s knee that much, and we gave it to my mother when we got home for her arthritic hands.
Wally liked the grappa
We walked out the road instead of the uneven brick sidewalk.
This neat little building was next to the road.
Here’s the official website of the Abbey to learn more:
Here is an informative link that tells more about the history of the Abbey:
Our purchases at Monte Oliveto…