We came across the Abbey Sant'Antimo on one of our earlier visits to Italy, and have returned to visit it a number of times.
It is described as evocative, we agree.
It dates from the 12th century and the small abbey stands alone in a olive grove, about 1- km from the town of Montalcino.
The story about the abbey is that it was founded by Chalmagne, also known as Charles the Great back in 781. The king and his army stopped at the abbey, returning from Rome, and were afflicted by an illness. An angel appeared to Charlemagne tell him to have his men drink a particular herb drink. Well of course, that fixed everything. Fixed the men, and fixed the abbey as the King built a new church in gratitude. Remnants of the first church are somewhat visible, according to articles, on the right side of the existing church., there is an engraving "Carolingian Chapel".
There are still monks today in the church, and it is a Benedict order, so do not expect a lavish interior. No, you find simplicity of design, with warm inviting yellow tones of the stone inviting to stay.
We have been there while an actual service took place, and when actual Gregorian Chants. Goose Bumps. Other times we have been there and recorded Gregorian Chants have softly played. Still Goose Bumps!
The carvings of the capitals of the columns are very impressive.
Interior of the Abbaye
At one time, this abbey was the most powerful monastic landowner in Tuscany. The abbey held power over 38 churches that were located between Pisa and Grosseto. As well,it controlled over 1000 farm estates throughout Tuscany. Holdings include the castle of Montalcino which was the residence of the abbot. Power struggles between the cities ended this by an agreement in the end where the abbey has to hand over a quarter of its territories to Siena, including Montalcino.
Inside the abbey, the capitals have the work of Daniel in the lion's den. This is the work of the French Master of Cabestany and shows Daniel praying between the hungry lions and on the other wides, the lions devouring the accusers.
Architecture in San Gimignano