Paradoxplace Tuscan Galleries

Artists of the Italian Renaissance

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L'Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore

"The Abbey Born in a Dream"


Link to Abbazia Sant'Antimo - Italy's most beautiful and light filled Abbey


Back to overview of Siena Photo Pages


Link to new Photos from July 2005


The Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore "the Abbey in the Clouds" is the mother house of the Olivetians, a congregation of Benedictine Monks founded in 1313 by Beato Bernardo Tolomei di Siena on the a god-forsaken eroded Balze Cliff area to the south of Siena.   Well, Bernardo persuaded God back, and the whole place is now awash with cypress trees and other greenery (photo).  The famous frescoes in the Great Cloister (36 of them - a massive endeavour) recount the life of Saint Benedict, and are by Luca Signorelli (c1450 - 1523) and latterly Giovanni Sodoma (1477 - 1549) (for a hint of where the latter was coming from,  note the attractive young lads with tunic skirts slashed to the thigh).  Whilst at the Abbey, donít miss the extraordinary marquetry work (circa 1505) by Fra Giovanni da Verona in the chapel's choir stalls (shown below)



Il Sodoma (1477 - 1549)

Self portrait in one of the frescoes at Monte Olivetto


Luca Signorelli (c1450 - 1523)

Self portrait (on the left) with Fra Angelico in the San Brizio Chapel, Orvieto Cathedral



The intarsia work (circa 1505 and mostly by Fra Giovanni da Verona) in the choir stalls of the church is outstandingly beautiful (though often unlit and difficult to see).  And, as usual in Italy, there is a high quality art book with a page devoted to each panel and descriptions in four languages, which can be bought from their bookshop


Link to Monte Oliveto Maggiore Website



This is what the Siena Campo looked like around 1505


Lots more large photos of the amazing intarsia work


Link to new Photos from July 2005

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