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The Abbey of Sant'Antimo (Abbazia di Sant'Antimo) is a beautiful Romanesque church, in a picture-perfect setting just south of Montalcino in southern Tuscany. It sits in a large valley with views of the hill town Castelnuovo dell'Abate, rolling hills covered in olive groves and vineyards, and wild forests. We try to visit Sant'Antimo each time we are in Tuscany. The Blue Guide says Sant'Antimo is "one of the finest Romanesque religious buildings in Italy." The church dates from the 12th century.
Sant'Antimo in the early evening
Monks live in buildings nearby and this church is used for religious purposes. The monks chant prayers at scheduled times during the day (see schedule below). Don't be fooled by the recorded chanting they play; look around and see if the monks are there! Plan your trip so that you will be there when they are chanting. The monks start chanting exactly at the schedule time and the chanting lasts about 12 minutes. When we were there, seven monks came out and sat on benches facing each other; three monks on one side, four on the other. They have a series of prayers that they chant. It was beautiful to hear.
On our June 2000 trip we got to hear the monks chanting twice! We got to the abbey for the 12:45pm chanting, then had lunch in the nearby village, and made it back for the 2:45pm chanting. It was a bit rushed, but worth it to hear the chanting twice.
Sant'Antimo is about 10km south of Montalcino. Follow the road from Montalcino to Castelnuovo dell'Abate. You will see Sant'Antimo on your right, down in the valley, just before Castelnuovo dell'Abate. Drive down into the valley and you will see parking along the road.
View from Sant'Antimo.
Times for Chanting
The opening times and the schedule for chanting are posted in Italian on the Abbey door. We have translated these signs below giving the Italian version in parentheses. The standard European 24 hour clock times are used.
Hours for Visiting (Orario di Visita)
The church is open all day (la chiesa rimane aperta tutto il giorno), but
some parts may not be accessible at all times. You may visit the entire church
during these hours:
Do not visit the Abbey during services.
Schedule of Prayers (Orario della Preghiera)
Photo of sign on Sant'Antimo church door, 2002 (click for larger image)
Another sign on the door requests that you keep silent in the church.
Photo of sign on Sant'Antimo church door, 2002
Note: These photos of the signs are from September 2002 and were unchanged since our previous visits in 1999 and 2001.
Having Lunch Nearby
This is an excellent location for restaurants. There are several good restaurants in Montalcino. You could drive out for the 12:45 chanting, then head back to Montalcino for a long afternoon lunch or you could eat nearby in Castelnuovo dell'Abate.
Restaurant: Boccondivino, Via Traversa dei Monti, Montalcino, tel:0577-848233,
Closing day: Tuesday and November
Restaurant: Antica Osteria del Bassomondo, Castelnuovo dell'Abate,
near Sant'Antimo monastery, tel: 0577-835-750, closed Mondays
There is a hiking trial from the church which takes you up into the woods towards Montalcino. The trail is well marked - it goes to your right from the main pathway to the church, just before you turn left to go to the church. Both times we were there we walked out along the trail for about 30 minutes, then walked back, but you can walk all the way to Montalcino. You get some lovely views of the church and the valley along the trail.
The Blue Guide also mentions the town of Sant'Angelo in Colle, 6km from Sant'Antimo, as being an "enchanting well-preserved village on the top of a hill ... contained in its circle of walls". You can drive there on a white road (dirt road) from Sant'Antimo or on a paved road from Montalcino. I am going to find that town on our next trip.
You can drive on from Sant'Antimo to the Monte Amiata towns, but the roads are narrow and winding. We usually drive back to Montalcino and out to the main road from there.
www.antimo.it/pagine/01COMUNITAbis.html: Get up to date information from the Sant'Antimo web site (in Italian)
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