Monte Oliveto Maggiore and the Crete Senesi
Hidden among cypress and olive trees, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is an art gem
Hidden among cypress and olive trees, the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is an art gem surrounded by the peace of the Crete Senese easily accessible from Siena. Inhabited to the present day by monks, the Abbey has a magnificent cloister with frescoes painted in the late 1400s and early 1500s by Luca Signorelli and by Giovanni Antonio Bazzi, known as Il Sodoma; the Abbey further houses a noteworthy church and, on its upper floors, a library, an ancient pharmacy and a chapter room only recently opened to visitors. Not far from the Abbey is the little town of Chiusure, perched upon a hilltop, as well as Asciano, the centre of the Crete Senesi area which may be reached by an incredibly scenic road giving views of stark hills and deep ravines typical of the Crete’s moonlike landscape. Asciano is home to one of the area’s most beautiful museums of Etruscan and Sienese art. A short distance away lie the thermal-bath towns of Serre di Rapolano and Rapolano Terme providing visitors with true tastes of the Medieval world. For lovers of contemporary art amid breathtaking landscapes, nothing can compare with a drive on the old Lauretana Road toward Siena with a stop along the way at the fascinating and mysterious Site Transitoire by sculptor Jean-Paul Philippe.