Concerning the best places to visit in Tuscany, we decided to let you know more about the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. The Abbey of Sant’Antimo (Abbazia di Sant’Antimo) sits in a verdant valley, surrounded by ancient olive trees and cypresses, south of Montalcino in Tuscany. It is a wonderful place to visit on your honeymoon in Italy or Tuscany tour.
The origins of the abbey remain unknown. Some legends say that the great Charlemagne founded it, however, there are documents pointing out that the abbey might have started as a small chapel as early as the year of 352. The present church was constructed in the middle of the 12th century, however, some features still survive from the monastery that was here in the 8th century. As it stood on Via Francigena, an important pilgrim path from France to Rome, pilgrims traditionally found shelter within the abbey’s walls.
By the 13th century the days of power for Abbazia di Sant’Antimo were almost over. In the following centuries the abbey slowly lost its lands and authority. It stood abandoned and forgotten for a long time. By 1870 a tenant farmer moved in and used the church to keep his agricultural machinery and animals. Luckily, the Italian government stepped in and restored the abbey to its former glory, but it wasn’t until 1970s that a community of monks moved in.
Today the abbey is run by a small group of priests and has become one of the main Tuscany attractions. The priests are canons, not monks, so they do not seek contemplative solitude and the purpose of their life is to conduct public ministry of liturgy and sacraments for those who visit their church. The canons are not cameras shy, however, the rules of Abbazia di Sant’Antimo do not allow taking photos during the religious ceremonies.
The canons gather in the abbey every day, clad in white habits, for Gregorian chant. They pray throughout the day and people come to listen to their ethereal voices from all over the world. The prayer schedule is published on the abbey’s website. It can get quite crowded here, so try to arrive early in the morning (the church opens at 6am!) or in the evening, before 9pm.
Photos by Anna Lebedeva.