Offbeat Tuscany: The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore

Looking for an offbeat place to visit in Tuscany?? Take a trip to “The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore” founded by Giovanni Tolomea, Ambrogio Piccolomini and Patrizio Patrizi. The historic Abbey is only 36kms from Siena and makes a great base to explore the surrounding Tuscan countryside, especially the area of Val d’Orcia. Visiting the Abbey is an offbeat Tuscan experience which I highly recommend!

The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore

Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore/Abbazzia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore

The Abbey of Monte Oliveto is Tuscany’s best kept secret!! Located in a very deep and mystical surrounding, the Gothic abbey is quiet and almost inexplicably eerie. Surrounded by the marvelous Tuscan countryside lined with cypress trees, it turns out to be a great day trip from surrounding towns such as Pienza, Montestigliano and Siena. Inside the abbey is a botanical garden, a parking space and clean toilets!

Related Reading: Where to Stay in Tuscany

Why is Monte Oliveto Popular??

Locals from this part of Tuscany especially know about this abbey. It is popular because this is where monks sing Gregorian chants-an experience like no other. 

I visited the Abbey on careful planning with my friends Luisa and Piero who were also amazing hosts. The guests and onlookers are not allowed to film when the monks chant. I think it was amazing to just be in the moment and feel the vibrations of the room. It was a chance to live in the moment and the experience is truly surreal.

I highly suggest you to add it to your itinerary if you’re in the area for a few days. The prayer schedule and chant timings are mentioned on this link here.

Frescoes by Signorelli and Bazzi

The interior of the 13th century baroque styled abbey is filled with frescoes from the life of St. Benedict that were completed by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi (Il Sodoma).

In the Abbey’s Chiostro Grande
The frescoes of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Monte Oliveto Maggiore
The courtyard

Wine Tasting in the Abbey

A very cool part of visiting the Abbey (apart from the Gregorian chants) is that the monks sell their own wine label. So you can even have a wine tasting in a cellar below the church- Tuscany’s own little secret indeed!

How to Reach Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore

The Abbey of Monte Oliveto can be reached by car and makes a great base to explore other nearby towns of Buonconvento, Montepulciano and Pienza.

Further Reading:

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  • […] The Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore […]

  • Kelly
    August 25, 2018 at 7:22 am

    I totally need to do Tuscany with a car again! Sounds like a magical wine tasting 🙂 Love that the monks have their own wine label, how cool!

    • Italophilia
      August 27, 2018 at 9:02 am

      I think it was very close to where you were this time! I wish I had bought some wine from here 😉

  • Debra Kolkka
    August 22, 2018 at 2:52 am

    What a stunning place! We will look for it the next time we are in the area, thank you.

    • Italophilia
      August 22, 2018 at 11:25 am

      Happy to share, Debra 🙂

  • Trinity
    August 20, 2018 at 6:55 pm

    Such a beautiful place. The frescoes are so vibrant!

    • Italophilia
      August 20, 2018 at 6:59 pm

      I know right?? The talent and creativity.

  • Greg Speck
    August 20, 2018 at 5:33 pm

    Great blog. Love to read about your travels. Can not find a “like” button that works on your page.

    • Italophilia
      August 20, 2018 at 6:58 pm

      Thank you Greg. If you go to your WordPress Reader you might see the like button. I love comments more than likes 😉 Thanks for your comments as always.

  • Flavia Vinci
    August 20, 2018 at 12:39 am

    how long have you been there?

    • Italophilia
      August 20, 2018 at 11:32 am

      I went for an hour or so in January this year

  • Cara
    August 17, 2018 at 7:11 am

    What a great find! Beautiful ❤️ I loved Tuscany and can’t wait to return

    • Italophilia
      August 17, 2018 at 11:13 am

      Thanks Cara!! 🙂 It’s a great little find.

  • Lisa DeNunzio
    August 15, 2018 at 7:34 pm

    We had a ‘doozy’ of a time finding it but it was well worth the hunt. We loved seeing where the monks lived and ate – plus being able to purchase wine and olive oil was a nice addition.

    • Italophilia
      August 15, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      Lovely!! I didn’t buy anything but was very impressed about their own line of wines and oils.

  • Stacy Pollard
    August 15, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    Beautiful! Looks like a hidden treasure. For the first time, this summer we rented a car and drove around this area — a wonderful experience! xo

    • Italophilia
      August 15, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      I know right?? Best in my opinion. Where did you rent from?? I drove with a few friends.

  • Carmela
    August 15, 2018 at 1:37 pm

    This is a definite must-see! 🙂

    • Italophilia
      August 15, 2018 at 2:56 pm

      Absolutely and you are so close!

  • Darlene Foster
    August 15, 2018 at 12:36 pm

    Amazing! Fab pictures.

    • Italophilia
      August 15, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Thanks Darlene 🙂

  • KareninCalabria
    August 15, 2018 at 11:41 am

    Beautiful frescos, wine, singing? Sounds like a winner!

    • Italophilia
      August 15, 2018 at 11:51 am

      Absolutely!! I wish I had more time here. Thanks for stopping by Karen


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