Tours Around Tuscany
three examples from each Itinerary....
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.