Siena

The Monte Oliveto circular walk: from monks to rocky outcrops

The Monte Oliveto circular walk

From monks to rocky outcrops

The Monte Oliveto circular walk is an excursion which takes us to the Monte Oliveto Maggiore Abbey and the small village of Chiusure.

We are in the heart of Siena’s clay hills, a fairytale system “of ash coloured clay lands hollowed out in countless ways, jagged and scattered with broad crevices …”.

This seemingly gentle land has been scraped away, cleft, roughened, almost like a lunar landscape. It is a land which reveals its poignant beauty step by step.

First we will discover the small village of Chiusure. This place has retained its human dimension, with its red bricks that stand out against the green of the surrounding countryside and the grey of the “calanchi”, the clay formations typical of the area.

Next, passing close to the calanchi, we will make our way back to the Abbey, a true haven of peace in a landscape of cypress and oak.

Then at last we will have the chance to visit the abbey buildings, their structure typical of all Benedictine abbeys: a large cloister, two smaller ones, a chapterhouse, a church, a refectory and a lovely library with a small museum.

Of particular interest is the history of the Abbey, https://www.tuscanyarttrek.com/it/tours/abbazia-di-monte-oliveto/ founded by the son of one of the most important of Siena’s wealthy aristocratic families: Giovanni Tolomei, who initially decided with two companions to live a hermit’s life here.

During our visit to this place so full of atmosphere we will not fail to  admire  two small treasures: the inlaid choir stalls by Fra’ Giovanni da Verona, in which wood becomes art, and the frescoes in the Great Cloister, one of the most beautiful and complete cycles devoted to the life of Saint Benedict.

We will have no problem identifying the styles of the two great artists who created it, Luca Signorelli and Il Sodoma, complete opposites in character, and we will also discover the many entertaining anecdotes hidden behind the figures of the Benedictine monks in the frescoes on the wall.

In a word the ingredients for half a day “detached from time”, surrounded by nature and spirituality, are all here!

 

 

POSSIBLE EXTENSIONS

  • Duration: 3,30 – 4 hours h  (2,00 h spent in excursion, 1 h-1,30  h spent in guided visit)
  • Lenght 5 km
  • Difficulty: Easy to medium

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