Tours Around Tuscany

three examples  from each Itinerary....

Red Itinerary
Monte Oliveto

Blue Itinerary
Gaiole in Chianti
Radda in Chianti
Castellina in Chianti

Green Itinerary



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   Monte Oliveto

foto3.jpg (3992 bytes)Monte Oliveto Maggiore  is an early foundation of the Olivetan Order and the Abbey itself is one of the most interesting in Italy. lt stands in the very heart of Tuscany in a beautiful position 33 Km. from Siena among lofty cypresses facing a very suggestive view of the Sienese 'crete' (moors).It was begun in 1313 by Giovanni Tolomei, later on called Bernardo, with the help of the Sienese nobles Patrizio Patrizi and Ambrogio Piccolomini who lived as hermits with Bernardo; the place at that time was know as the "deserto di Acc˛na" (the desert of Accona). Other hermits joined them in the process of time. The new foundation followed the Benedictine Rule and, having been approved by Guido Tarlati, the Archbishop of Arezzo in 1319, was sanctioned by Pope Clement VI in 1344. Around the Abbey are grouped smaller churches, chapels, churches and later additions adorned with graceful loggias. The main gateway is surmounted by a square watch tower decorated with an early 16th century terracotta of Virgin Mary and the Holy Babe with two Angels. Along the shady paths are several Chapels built in the memory of the Saints: Blessed Bernardo's Chapel near the cave where he dwelt (rebuilt in 1760), Santa Scolastica's Chapel built by Bernardo Tolomei and the Chapel of Santa Francesca Romana, dated 1644.The grand Gothic Abbey built in the shape of a Latin cross was rebuilt inside in the late years of the 18th century.
The beautiful choir stalls were carved and inlaid by Fra Giovanni da Verona from 1503 to 1505, the lectern was made by Raffaello da Brescia in 1518 and the delightful wooden Crucifix is a work of art of the 13th century.
Works of art are to be seen everywhere in this Monastery but particulary in the loggia running around the "Chiostro Grande" (larger cloister) where the walls are frescoed with 36 scenes from the Stories of San Benedetto da Norcia as they were told by St. Gregory. Nine of these frescoes were painted by Luca Signorelli from 1497 to 1498, the rest by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi nicknamed Sodoma from 1505 to 1508. The well is dated 1439. This Loggia is surmounted by another one resting on graceful pillars. The refectory was frescoed in the 17th century and the Library was planned by Fra Giovanni da Verona in 1518 to house a set of 15th century miniated chorals and some precious pottery. The same artist carved the door, one of the candelabra and a cupboard.The actual monastery was started a year after the signing of the "Charta fundationis" dated March 26th., 1319 where by it was prescribed that the church should be surrounded with minor buildings. Monte Oliveto Maggiore is the cradle of the Olivetan Order. From the earliest times down to the present day it has always held a foremost position in the fields of science, art and of studies in general. A school for the recovery of old books (Istituto di patologia dei libro) has now been founded where qualified monks carry out the most skilful and amazing work.