We decided to take the girls to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore to see the fantastic frescoes in their Great Cloister, and do some wine and grappa sampling at the monastery’s wine cellar. The cloister paintings were begun by Luca Signorelli in 1495 and completed by Antonio Bazzi, known as il Sodoma, in 1505.
The Abbey also has a gift shop where they sell their homeopathic remedies, gifts and souvenirs. In their wine cellar they sell wines and grappa and olive oil and grains that they produce. Learn more about their history and famous frescoes at their website: http://www.monteolivetomaggiore.it/
We left our little hamlet on a beautiful morning for the short drive…
As you near the Abbey the landscape is cratered and very dramatic. This is the Crete Senesi area.
Out of respect, they ask you to cover bare arms and chest with a black shawl they provide.
Denise models her shawl style
Entering the Great Cloister…
We overheard a tour leader telling about the paintings – These skimpily dressed ladies were prostitutes!
Upstairs they have a library and book restoration area. Sadly they were closed when we were visiting.
Down the hill beneath one of the buildings is the wine cellar. We really liked their wines last time and they were just as good this year. We bought a sampling of wine and grappa to enjoy later.
Loaded with purchases, it was time for the hike up the hill to the parking area.
Along the way I noticed honeybees in a tree next to the road.
Monica, Wally and Denise at the Abbey entrance.
Next stop – lunch! The small town of Asciano is just minutes away, and that was our choice for lunch. This is a charming little town with few people. We stepped into the church and did a quick tour of town.
We chose one of the outdoor cafes and had salad and sandwiches.
We journeyed through the countryside for a while…and figured out quickly that the black and red arrow meant a one lane bridge ahead and the red arrow side better use caution!
A flock of sheep in the distance lured us closer
We were charmed to see a shepherd sitting on the hill watching his flock.
Always that one black sheep…and this flock had a few!
We arrived back in time to our village to fix snacks and wine and head to the top of the hill for our evening poolside sunset rendezvous.
Our sunset front row seating…
Up next, wine tasting at Montalcino and a family-style Italian dinner just down the road.