Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in Asciano: visiting hours and how to get there
The imposing Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in Asciano is an oasis of spirituality located in the ample context of the Crete Senesi. This monastic complex stands out in the midst of a flourishing vegetation composed of cypresses, oaks, pines and olive trees and is certainly a recommended destination for those who find themselves spending a holiday in Siena and its surroundings. Among other things, in full compliance with the famous Benedictine principle of hospitality, the site in question also offers guest house services and opens its cellar to visitors for tastings of wines, oil and other products.
History of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
According to the legend, the birth of the Abbey originated from a dreamlike experience of the rich landowner Giovanni Tolomei. During a dream, in fact, the nobleman from Siena saw the vision of a silver stairway that rose towards the sky.
Once the complex was built, Tolomei changed its name to Bernardo and retired to the abbey to lead a more spiritual life with the other nobles Ambrogio Piccolomini and Patrizio Patrizi. In particular, the three decided to join the order of Benedictines, following the famous rule “ora et labora”.
To this day the architecture of the Abbey reflects the traditional approach of the Benedictine monastic complexes which usually consist of the following spaces:
- Great Cloister
- One or more small cloisters
- Chapter House
- Hall used as a refectory
The visit of the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore starts from the beautiful church, built in the fifteenth century, but later transformed in the eighteenth century in Baroque and Rococo style .
Dedicated to the sacred figure of Holy Mary, the church includes great artistic masterpieces, including an inlaid wooden choir from Fra Giovanni da Verona with 125 stalls and a finely inlaid lectern by Fra Raffaele da Brescia.
From the church, the visit continues towards the Big Cloister with the beautiful frescoes by Luca Signorelli and Antonio Bazzi known as the Sodoma. The vivid shades and very detailed images of these masterpieces manage to tell the life, characters and views of the 15th century very well.
From the Cloister, the itinerary continues into the refectory, the chapter hall and then the large library that holds manuscripts and books of great value.
For all those who want to take part in tastings of wine and products grown on the farm, finally, the Abbey also opens its cellar doors.
The access to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore is free. Groups arriving on site with a guide can move independently.
During standard time the opening times are as follows:
Morning 09: 15-12: 00
Afternoon 15: 15-17: 00
During summer time instead, the only difference is the fact that in the afternoon the closing takes place at 18:00 instead of at 17:00.
To contact the abbey guide the number is 0577/718567 (Dino); for any other information call the number 0577/707611.
Timetable of celebrations
The timetable of the Holy Masses celebrated at the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in Asciano differs in weekdays and holidays.
06.45 Morning Mass (excluding Saturday)
07:30 Praise and Conventual Celebration
11:00 Conventual celebration
17.30 Mass on Saturday and Sunday
How to get to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore
Let’s see how to get to the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore in Asciano by car, train and plane.
By car it is possible to find your way starting from Siena and Arezzo:
From Siena follow the E78 (Siena-Bettolle) to the Rapolano Terme exit, 9 km from Asciano, and continue on the SS451. Alternatively, from Siena it is also possible to follow the Cassia SR2 passing through Buonconvento.
From Arezzo take the A1, exit at Val di Chiana-Bettolle, take the E78 (Siena-Bettolle) and exit at Serre di Rapolano.
By train the stations closest to the monastic complex are those of Asciano and Buonconvento. Taking the Florence-Siena-Grosseto line you must get off at Buonconvento, while with the Florence-Rome line you must change at Chiusi in the direction of Asciano.
By plane, finally, the nearest airports are those of Florence and Pisa.
Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore
53041 – Asciano (SI)