Holiday Villas and Small Hotels in Tuscany

Mystical Places of Tuscany

Dear Friends,

Tuscany is a region full of abbey and monasteries which are the centers of faith and spirituality but also buildings of incalculable historical and artistic value.
For religious people these places, which in many cases are still inhabited by monks and friars, offer the opportunity to learn about monastic life and to participate in liturgical celebrations and religious festivals.

The non-believer will be fascinated by the simple beauty of those places, splendid examples of how to integrate and create harmony between architecture and the natural landscape of Tuscany.
Many abbeys were founded during the Middle Age, most of the time in lonely areas, and still keep the charm of this historical period. The simplicity that characterizes the life of the monks is demonstrated by the simplicity of the architecture of these buildings without neglecting the elegance and the cult of the esthetic that characterizes all Tuscany and Italy in general.
In many cases, the apparent simplicity hides on the inside precious works of art, in this case by the monks sheltered interior. Area with the largest number of abbeys and monasteries in Tuscany are certainly Siena and Florence and in some cases the buildings have been restored and adapted to become houses. Still all areas of Tuscany can boast of a large legacy of monasteries and convents, which make Tuscany a destination not only of great cultural and architectural interest but also very attractive to the religious tourism. As I mentioned there are many monasteries and abbeys in Tuscany, so I will not be able to talk about all of them but I will focus on the most famous and the one I know better.

Monte Oliveto Maggiore (Area of Siena)

This complex monastery was founded in 1319 by Saint Bernardo Tolomei of Siena. In the XV and XVI centuries, it became a great center of art and culture, with scholars coming from all over Europe, attracted by the vast cultural wealth accumulated in its Library. Nowadays, there is about 40 monks living in the abbey, including the Oblates.
The monumental complex is accessible by a drawbridge and great treasure is the library that hosts 45,000 volumes, including scrolls, manuscripts, relics and all kinds of paper. Every two years in spring and summer, organ concerts and meetings on the history and monastic spirituality are organised.
The place offers hospitality to priests, lay people, families or small groups who are passing by or visiting the site for prayers and meditation. Inside you can visit and buy products in the "Botica" where monks still produce artisanal herbal remedies. You can also access a "La Cantina" where you can buy oil and wine. This monastery is a beautiful center of peace and spirituality that certainly deserves a visit when you are traveling in Tuscany. For more information:

Abbazia di Sant Antimo (Area of Siena) 

Between legends and history, we are often told that in 781 BC while Charlemagne was leaving Rome he back through the valley where now stands the abbey and his population was infected by a plague. To stop the epidemic, Charlemagne vowed to build an abbey. So the first stones seem traced to IX century BC while the present church was erected in 1118 AC, getting the protection of emperors and popes. The Church, which is located in the picturesque valley of Starcia, has a portal of great historical importance and an imposing bell tower in Lombard style. Inside the monastery consists of a nave and two aisles and the choir surrounded by an ambulatory that brings a feeling of mystic atmosphere. All the religious services are sung in Gregorian. In summer held torchlight processions. For more information:

Le Celle (Near Cortona, area of Arezzo) 
Finally I want to mention the beautiful monastery of Celle at only 5 min away by car from Cortona. Located in the natural caves of Mount St. Egidio this place was a refuge for the poor when Saint Francois retired for prayer. In 1231 AD, Brother Elias raised a hermitage of 8 cells and late XVII and early XVIII centuries, it was extended to thirty cells. The Capuchin friars began using it as a place of novitiate.
The Church has two paintings of the late XVII century, while other paintings can be found  in the refectory. The set is preserved with childlike simplicity and austerity of the monks. Since 1922, the House of Prayer Hermitage is open to the public. For more information:

As always I hope that through this article, I have aroused your interest for my beloved Tuscany. If you consider this information valuable please click on G + button that you will find at the end of the article so that Google knows that this information is relevant.


Giorgio Toscano

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