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Report 673: Tuscan Rambles

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2004

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Page 10 of 17: Day 9 – Sunday May 9: Montepulciano, Abbazia di Monte Olivieto Maggiore

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Fresco at Monte Olivieto Maggiore

Following a late breakfast we drove up the hill, parked outside the walls and joined the weekend throng on the Corso of Montepulciano. It was an enjoyable experience, partially because it was not just a tourist crowd. After doing some shopping along the Corso, mainly for food products to take with us home to Canada, we lunched at Caffι Poliziano.

Following lunch, we drove west on 146 passing Pienza, and turned right onto a secondary road to make our way to the Abbazia di Monte Olivieto Maggiore by a less-traveled road. We enjoyed more of the beautiful Tuscan countryside while driving on an almost deserted roadway.

The main attraction of the abbey is a great work of art, a Renaissance fresco cycle on the life of St. Benedict by Sodoma and Luca Signorelli. The fresco is on the four walls of a covered portico surrounding an interior garden area - see photo. Almost equally attractive is the setting of the abbey itself, sitting in splendid isolation on a wooded hillside. We also purchased some of the wonderful honey produced at the abbey. We brought the honey back with us. The distinctive taste and aroma was a reminder of our time at the abbey for several weeks. The abbey closes at noon for more than 3 hours so it is best to time your visit accordingly.

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