This is a large monastery beautifully situated in the Tuscan countryside between Asciano and Buonconvento. The resident monks support themselves by restoring antiquarian books, largely for the Vatican library. In addition to its overall architectural charms, the principal highlight is the magnificent cloister, which is entirely surrounded by frescoes depicting the life of St Benedict. These were begun by the great Luca Signorelli, but he was diverted half way through to work on what is now the Signorelli Chapel in the duomo at Orvieto. The Monte Oliveto frescoes were then completed by the immensely talented Il Sodoma (so nicknamed because he was flamboyantly gay). These frescoes are one of the great art treasures of Italy. The other part of the monastery worth seeing is the beautifully carved wooden choir. There is a small shop on the grounds where the monks sell honey, soaps, and other handmade natural products, as well as books and other memorabilia. There is also a very nice restaurant for lunch. When you visit, be sure to check the afternoon closing hours. Allow half a day for this.
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