The Abby of Monte Oliveto Maggiore


The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore rises on a solitary hill surrounded by cypresses in the province of Siena, not far from the characteristic villages of Asciano, Buonconvento and San Giovanni d’Asso. The Abby is placed only 40 km away from Siena city center. In the background the famous “Crete” landscape, typical sand and clay formations, the Ombrone Valley and the majestic Mount Amiata.

The Abby was founded by the Sienese Bernardo Tolomei in 1313, and is now a complex of buildings constructed over the XIV-XVIII C., preceded by a small medieval palace with a massive rectangular tower with battlements and drawbridge, built in 1393 to defend the monastery, which was completed in 1526 and again restored in 1800. After the bridge begins an avenue running downhill, in the midst of the typical Tuscan tall cypress trees, which leads to the Monastery.

At the end of the avenue the imposing Abbey complex on which stands the Romanesque-Gothic bell tower 47 meters high. Through an entrance hall the great cloister is reached, whose walls are adorned with one of the masterpieces of the Renaissance art, the cycle of frescoes of the Life of Saint Benedict by Luca Signorelli and Sodoma. The cycle narrates the life and deeds of Saint Benedict as described by San Gregorio.

The Church has a Gothic façade with an elegant portal, inside there is a magnificent wooden choir by Fra Giovanni da Verona (1503), proving the technical and artistic skill reached by inlayers of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. The enclosure area consists of the middle cloister, the refectory, the small cloister, the library with 40,000 volumes, the Definitorio (or Chapter-house) and a fine restoration laboratory for ancient books and parchments.

Nowadays Monte Oliveto is still a place of prayer and worship, nestling in the heart of the Tuscan countryside. Several tourists and devotees come today in Monte Oliveto where time seems to stand still forever.

The Sienese countryside is an enchanted place to visit, wonderful villages, churches and monasteries surrounded by nature ... and farmhouses where you can spend unforgettable holidays! Here our selection of villas with pool, farmhouses and holiday homes in Siena and in Valdorcia !!!