Monte Oliveto Maggiore: the abbey born in a dream
Monte Oliveto Maggiore
The abbey born in a dream
Monte Oliveto Maggiore is an abbey immersed in a forest composed of cypresses, pines and olive trees. In other words: a true oasis in the wild and lonely landscape of the Sienese Crete.
Particularly, it was the isolation of this place that attracted the old nobleman Giovanni dei Tolomei. He and two of his close friends were in search of a more austere and ascetic life and the place was perfect for them.
The church was built later, as a result of Giovanni’s vision.
Indeed he had a dream about a long silver ladder rising to the sky as monks dressed in white were running up the steps, helped by angels.
Today the complex is a wonderful example of “artistic beauty and spiritual serenity”.
Although the monks’ daily routine is still strictly structured, it is always possible to visit the beautiful central Cloister. Here we will admire the most beautiful Italian cycle of scenes from the Life St. Benedict, frescoed by Luca Signorelli and Sodoma.
Inside the church, we will finally find the magnificent choir carved and inlaid by friar Giovanni da Verona and its “badalone” (lectern) with the peculiar tiger cat.
Least but not last, a must see: the sixteenth-century library.
Unfortunately, the whole library heritage has been dispersed by being split up among public and private libraries around the world.
- An additional visit to the hamlet of Asciano
- Try also my easy trekking in the surroundings
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